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CoronavirusDepartment Stores

John Lewis shutters eight stores, 1,300 jobs at risk

John Lewis has confirmed it will not be reopening eight sites across the UK, and will now enter into consultation with impacted employees across its estate. 

The move will reportedly place 1,300 jobs at risk. 

The sites that are now set to close their doors include its travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, as well as four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth.

In addition, two full-sized department stores in Birmingham and Watford will no longer reopen.  

If the redundancies are confirmed, the group said it would make “every effort” to find replacement roles where possible for those who wish to remain within the John Lewis Partnership.

According to the retailer, the eight sites in question were “already financially challenged”, prior to the pandemic. 

The increase in online shopping has also affected the sites, with online sales predicted to rise from 40% of the group’s total sales to 60% or 70% of total sales this year and next.

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.” 

She added: “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.”

She concluded: “We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.” 

Earlier this month, the department store chain was reportedly set to cut jobs in a bid to reduce its costs.

In a memo first seen by the Evening Standard, chairman Sharon White told 80,000 employees that it was “highly unlikely” the group would reopen all of its John Lewis stores.

In addition to this, the letter mentioned the possibility of stopping the company’s iconic staff bonus next year. White also told staff that the group was “rethinking” its head office space, and will now close one of its two large offices in Victoria. 

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