John Lewis department stores to close due to coronavirus
The John Lewis Partnership is to temporarily close its 50 John Lewis department stores on 23 March to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move marks the first time that the business has shuttered its shops in its 155-year history.
As a result, Waitrose food halls within John Lewis shops in Watford, Southampton and Bluewater will also close but those within the Oxford Street and Kingston, Ipswich, Stratford, Horsham, Basingstoke and Canary Wharf stores will remain open.
John Lewis & Partners will continue to serve customers through its website.
The partnership’s chairman Sharon White said: “The welfare of our customers, communities and partners is always our absolute priority. While it is with a heavy heart that we temporarily close our John Lewis shops, our partners will, where possible, be taking on important roles in supporting their fellow partners, providing critical services in Waitrose shops and ensuring our customers can get what they need through johnlewis.com, which is seeing extremely strong demand.”
With 338 Waitrose shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands remaining open, over 2,000 John Lewis partners have already been transferred to the Waitrose team.
The partnership said the impact of coronavirus meant it will be difficult to predict its full year cash flow and profits.
It added: “Although there has been a rising demand in food so far, it may peak further, as people are asked to stay at home. We expect fashion sales to decline but electricals and home technology and some home product lines to increase as people continue to work from home and need to stay connected.”
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