John Lewis has issued a plea to the government to provide clarity on whether its stores will be able to reopen in early December.
According to The Daily Mail, the department store chain has called for clarity “as soon as possible” as its larger stores would need time to re-open for the busy season.
Andrew Murphy, John Lewis operations director, said John Lewis needs to know whether to line up temporary Christmas staff for its stores, or alternatively whether to channel up to “400,000 product lines” into its vast online warehouses and parcels networks if shops remain closed.
He added that he has already deployed thousands of staff into Waitrose stores and its online businesses since shops closed last week.
Murphy said he was confident John Lewis would satisfy all of its deliveries and that it was “well positioned” going into this.
Murphy said he was not pressuring the government to open shops, but wanted a “clear statement” over the strategy for larger shops announced by the middle of this month, which would allow retailers significant time to formulate a plan.
John Lewis could reportedly make up to 20% of its annual profit in the peak weeks leading up to Christmas, Murphy revealed.
Murphy also called for a relaxation of Sunday trading laws on the weekend before Christmas. He said a four-hour extension would allow Waitrose to serve about 200,000 more customers.
He told The Daily Mail: “This [second lockdown] has put a boot through four of the seven most profitable weeks of the year. Obviously, we would like them to allow us to open shops, but we are aware they can’t prioritise retail over everything else. The NHS needs to be able to cope.
“The timing of us getting clarity is a very big issue. These are big operations to swing back into gear. My advice is to shop early, shop with retailers that you trust and, candidly, be confident that John Lewis is as well set for this as it is possible to be.”