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Published on July 9th, 2020 | by The GC Team

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Flagship Birmingham store amongst eight permanent John Lewis closures

The John Lewis Partnership has confirmed it will not reopen eight John Lewis stores, including its flagship regional store in Birmingham, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.  

The announcement comes just a week after the retailer said it was “highly unlikely” all 50 of its stores will ever open again.   

The shops due for closure include travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras – two of the smallest in the retailer’s store portfolio – four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Watford and Birmingham.

The 250,000 sq ft outlet in Birmingham City’s Grand Central retail development is one of the retailer’s biggest department stores in the UK. When it opened in 2015, Andy Street, then John Lewis managing director and now Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Today sends a clear message that John Lewis is firmly committed to the British High Street and that physical shops remain as important to us as they do to our customers.”

JLP today said 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.

The closure of the eight stores, which were already financially challenged prior to the pandemic, is to secure the business’s long-term future. The company will now enter into consultation with impacted Partners about its proposals. If redundancies are confirmed, every effort would be made to find new roles where possible for Partners who wish to remain within the Partnership, the retailer said.

“Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and Partners,” said Chairman of the Partnership Sharon White. “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,” White added.

The announcement of the closures comes as the final wave of John Lewis store reopenings is confirmed: Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield, White City Westfield, and an outlet Swindon will reopen on 30 July. Leicester will also reopen when the local lockdown for the city is lifted. 

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