John Lewis to close eight stores
The John Lewis Partnership has announced plans to permanently close eight John Lewis shops which could result in the loss of around 1,300 jobs.
It will now be embarking on a consultation period with affected staff.
John Lewis is currently midway through a phased reopening of stores following the Covid-19 lockdown and the eight stores earmarked for closure will actually never reopen.
The stores include two travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Birmingham and Watford. The partnership said the stores were already “financially challenged” prior to the pandemic.
Before the virus struck, 40% of John Lewis sales were online and the partnership said this could now rise to as much as 60% to 70% of total sales this year and next.
If redundancies are confirmed, the partnership said it will make every effort to find new roles for staff elsewhere in the business. Opportunities could include transferring to local Waitrose shops or working for either the John Lewis or Waitrose websites.
Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners. However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership – and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop. Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many Partners as possible within our business.”
John Lewis has also announced that a further nine shops will reopen on 30 July in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield. In addition, its Leicester store will reopen when the local lockdown for the city is lifted to take the total number of reopened John Lewis shops to 42. The partnership will also be reopening its Swindon John Lewis outlet on 30 July.
White added:”There are many reasons to be optimistic about the partnership’s future. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands and we have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic by responding to the new needs of customers. We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.”
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