The department store chain has decided on which locations it deems unviable, placing 1,300 jobs at risk.
John Lewis has officially announced the eight stores it intends to permanently close.
Dame Sharon White, the department store chain’s chairman, had warned that not all John Lewis stores would reopen once the high-street lockdown was over, and although more stores openings were announced today, eight locations that will not reopen were also confirmed.
The locations facing closure include two ‘full-service’ locations; the 30-year-old Intu Shopping Centre John Lewis store in Watford, and the location in the Birmingham Grand Central shopping mall.
Smaller ‘At Home’ branches in Swindon, Tamworth, Newbury and Croydown will also be shuttered, along with travel outlets at Heathrow and St Pancras.
However, stores in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield are set to reopen on 30th July, and the Leicester branch will also reopen when the local lockdown is lifted, taking the total number of reopened John Lewis shops to 42. The Swindon outlet is also due to reopen on 30th July.
In a statement the company said: “Prior to the pandemic, the eight shops identified were already financially challenged and the pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online. Before the virus struck, 40% of John Lewis sales were online. This could now be closer to 60 to 70% of total sales this year and next.”
It added: “If redundancies are confirmed, every effort would be made to find new roles where possible for Partners who wish to remain within the Partnership. Opportunities could include transferring to local Waitrose shops or working for johnlewis.com and waitrose.com as they continue to grow. The Partnership has also made a commitment to provide support through a unique Retraining Fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any Partner with two years’ service or more.”
In an email to suppliers, director of General Merchandise, Simon Coble, wrote: “Making announcements like this is incredibly difficult, however, the closures have been proposed in order to secure the long term financial sustainability of the Partnership. Despite the challenges we face, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Partnership’s future. Our other John Lewis shops continue to play an important role within the business and plans are being drawn up to ensure these shops work harder commercially. We also plan to invest further in JohnLewis.com and our ecommerce capabilities.”