John Lewis permanently closes eight stores with 1,300 staff at risk

9 July 2020, 10:26

John Lewis has announced it will permanently close eight outlets
John Lewis has announced it will permanently close eight outlets. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

John Lewis has announced it is to permanently close eight of its stores, putting 1,300 workers at risk.

The company said two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford, four smaller At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, as well as two 'travel hub' outlets at Heathrow and St Pancras will not reopen after their doors were closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Its flagship Oxford Street outlet will not be affected.

John Lewis said the eight shops were already "financially challenged" before the pandemic, which has ramped up the shift towards online shopping.

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The group estimated that between 60% and 70% of John Lewis sales are set to be made online this year and next, compared with 40% before the coronavirus crisis.

Among the outlets to close are the full-sized department stores in Birmingham and Watford. The Birmingham city centre store has only been open since 2015 at the Bull Ring. The Watford branch has been open for 30 years at the Harlequin Shopping Centre.

The chain, one of the country's biggest and most well-established retailers, has been gradually reopening branches, setting out a timetable to reopen 32 of its 51 shops last month. Bosses at the firm today confirmed that eight of the branches will never reopen.

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.

"Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business."