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Published on March 24th, 2021 | by The GC Team


John Lewis store estate shrinks to 34 as latest closures named

The John Lewis Partnership today named the department stores it will not reopen after the third lockdown, as it rebalances its store estate to reflect how customers want to shop. 

Earlier this month the retailer warned that not all 42 department stores would reopen, as the business recorded a loss before tax of £517m for the year ended 30 January 2021.

The eight shops identified for closure include four ‘At Home’ shops in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells and four department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.

The business said it will enter into consultation with the 1,465 affected Partners about the proposals. “Should we proceed, we will make every effort to find alternative roles in the Partnership for as many Partners as possible.”  

The remaining 34 John Lewis stores will reopen from 12 April subject to Government guidance, with the exception of Glasgow, which will reopen from 26 April, and Edinburgh on 14 May.

This is the second batch of John Lewis stores to have their fate sealed by changing consumer shopping habits and the coronavirus pandemic. Last summer eight sites did not reopen after the first lockdown.  All 16 stores were said to have been financially challenged prior to the pandemic. 

The business expects 60% to 70% of John Lewis sales to be made online in the future but said the department stores remain critical to its future success. Having fewer bigger stores allows significant investment to improve the remaining ones.

Meanwhile, JLP is trialling the introduction of John Lewis shopping areas in its Waitrose supermarkets and will be testing new formats of smaller, local neighbourhood shops offering the best of the brand. The online customer experience at johnlewis.com will also be strengthened.

Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Today’s announcement is incredibly sad news for our affected Partners, for our customers and for the communities we’ve served over many years.

“The high street is going through its biggest change for a generation and we are changing with it. Customers will still be able to get the trusted service that we are known for, however and wherever they want to shop.”

The Partnership also today confirmed plans to transfer the running of its Waitrose Distribution Centre in Leyland to XPO Logistics. 

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