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Published on March 21st, 2020 | by The GC Team

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John Lewis shops to close temporarily due to coronavirus

The John Lewis Partnership is to close all of its 50 John Lewis stores as a result of the impact of coronavirus in the UK.

The temporary shutdowns will take place at close of business on Monday 23 March but the retailer’s online business Johnlewis.com will continue to operate as normal, alongside Waitrose shops and waitrose.com.

The company said the move was a “difficult decision” and it is the first time in the 155-year history of the business that it will not open its shop doors for customers. 

Chairman Sharon White said: “The welfare of our customers, communities and Partners is always our absolute priority. While it is with a heavy heart that we temporarily close our John Lewis shops, our Partners will, where possible, be taking on important roles in supporting their fellow Partners, providing critical services in Waitrose shops and ensuring our customers can get what they need through johnlewis.com, which is seeing extremely strong demand.

“The Partnership has traded for over 155 years, during which time we have faced many difficult periods, including two world wars and the 2008 financial crisis. On every occasion, thanks to our customers and Partners, and the longstanding relationships with our suppliers and stakeholders, we have emerged stronger. We all need to continue to support each other and our strength and resilience will be tested. But they will not be broken.”

While some product categories sold at Johnlewis.com are expected to decline, the retailer said it expects online sales of Electricals & Home Technology and some Home product lines to increase as people continue to work from home and need to stay connected.

Commenting on the financial impact of the temporary store closures, John Lewis said the Government’s decision to introduce a business rates holiday will save the Partnership around £160m over the next 12 months and, in addition, VAT and wages support is welcomed.

Currently, taking the closures in to account shows that the business has sufficient liquidity, the retailer said. “However, we are not complacent. The scale of the societal and business impact of coronavirus is like nothing we have seen in recent times.”

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