John Lewis is to permanently close eight of its 50 stores, the retailer has detailed this morning, in a move that will include major outlets in Birmingham and Watford. It’s been reported that the closure will result in the loss of around 1,300 jobs.
All four of the group’s smaller At Home stores, in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, are to close as well as two outlets in travel hubs at Heathrow and St Pancras station in London, reports The Guardian.
The Group has said that the eight shops were already ‘financially challenged’ before the outbreak of coronavirus, but that the pandemic had accelerated the move from in-store shopping to online. Figures state that before the virus hit, 40 per cent of John Lewis sales were online, but since the pandemic, this could now be closer to 60 to 70 per cent of total sales this year and next.
Sharon White, the chairman of the department store’s parent group – 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 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.”