John Lewis confirms permenant closure of 8 stores

The John Lewis Partnership has announced that it is not reopening eight of its 42 stores when restrictions ease next month.

The company said that it would try to find alternative roles for as many of the 1,465 staff impacted as possible.

The retailer plans to close stores in locations that “cannot sustain a large store,” including four ‘At Home’ shops in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells and four department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.

It said that these stores were already struggling financially prior to the pandemic, largely due to not having enough customers.

“Given the significant shift to online shopping in recent years - and our belief that this trend will not materially reverse - we do not think the performance of these eight stores can be substantially improved,” said the retailer.

The 34 remaining John Lewis stores will reopen from 12 April, with the exception of Glasgow, which opens from 26 April, and Edinburgh, which reopens on 14 May.
John Lewis expects 60 to 70 per cent of its future sales to be made online, with nearly 50 per cent of its customers now using a combination of both store and online when making a purchase.

The department store said that by having fewer large stores, it enables the company to invest in improving its existing locations, with more space dedicated to “experiences and services.”

The company also has plans to improve its next day Click & Collect service across Waitrose stores and offer more local collection points via third parties.

It is currently trialling the introduction of John Lewis shopping areas in its Waitrose stores and by the autumn, Waitrose general merchandise products will be sourced by John Lewis.

It will also test new formats for smaller, local neighbourhood shops.

“Today's announcement is incredibly sad news for our affected Partners, for our customers and for the communities we’ve served over many years,” said Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. “The high street is going through its biggest change for a generation and we are changing with it. Customers will still be able to get the trusted service that we are known for - however and wherever they want to shop.”

Pippa Wicks, executive director for John Lewis, said: “Closing stores is the toughest thing we do as a Partnership because we all own our business. If the closures are confirmed, every effort will be made to find new roles for Partners and for us to continue to serve our customers by providing access to John Lewis in different ways.

“Alongside a growing online business and the expansion of next day Click & Collect, we will invest in our in-store services and experiences, as well as new, smaller neighbourhood formats and the introduction of John Lewis ranges in more Waitrose shops.”

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