The John Lewis Partnership has announced it will not re-open eight John Lewis stores. The shops identified for closure include two of the smallest in the estate - 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. Approximately 1300 partners across the eight shops will now enter into consultation.
The retailer states that prior to the pandemic, the eight shops identified were already "financially challenged", and that the coronavirus has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online. Before the virus struck, 40% of John Lewis' sales were online, but this could now be closer to 60-70%.
Partnership chairman Sharon White says: “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.
“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.”
The retailer's final wave of re-openings – in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield, White City Westfield and the Swindon outlet – will take place on 30th July, with Leicester set to re-open when the local lockdown for the city is lifted, taking the total number of re-opened stores to 42.