John Lewis to close stores and cut jobs in cost-cutting drive

1 July 2020, 14:58

John Lewis has said it is planning to cut jobs
John Lewis has said it is planning to cut jobs. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Department store John Lewis has announced that it is planning to close stores and cut jobs in a cost-cutting drive, the latest in a series of big UK firms to do so during the coronavirus crisis.

The firm said today that, sites will likely be cut as a result of having an excess of store space.

John Lewis initially shared the plans with staff in a letter. The exact number of stores and jobs being cut has not yet been confirmed.

Cuts could also include the smaller of its two head office buildings, which are both in London's Victoria.

Topshop owner Arcadia and Harrods announced a total of 1,180 job cuts. Earlier today Upper Crust owner SSP Group announced up to 5,000 jobs could go. Last night Airbus announced it plans to cut 15.000 jobs including 1,700 in the UK.

Yesterday, Easyjet said it was looking at plans to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, and nearly 1,300 people faced losing their jobs.

TM Lewin said around 600 people will lose their jobs as it closes all UK branches.John Lewis has so far reopened 22 of its 50 UK stores as the lockdown begins to ease.

In a statement, the company said: "The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now and we have shared this with our Partners."

"As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. However no decision has been made and any details would be shared with Partners first by the middle of July."

John Lewis has been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic
John Lewis has been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

In a letter to 80,000 employees, first reported by the Evening Standard, chief executive Sharon White said John Lewis is unlikely to pay its workers a bonus next year.

“Regrettably, it is likely that there will be implications for some partners’ jobs. We are in active discussions with landlords about ending some leases and renegotiating others to make the terms more flexible,” Ms White said.

John Lewis said a plunge in profits has led to staff bonuses being cut to their lowest level in almost 70 years.

Back in March, the company warned that it may have to close shops due to a fall in profits during the Covid-19 crisis.

Luxury retailer Harrods also announced that it is cutting 680 jobs due to coronavirus impacting on profit levels.

He told staff: "With a heavy heart, today I need to confirm that due to the ongoing impacts of this pandemic, we as a business will need to make reductions to our workforce.

"The necessary social distancing requirements to protect employees and customers is having a huge impact on our ability to trade, while the devastation in international travel has meant we have lost key customers coming to our store and frontline operations."

He said the job cuts would come "in parts of the business that have been most affected by the challenges of lockdown".

Arcadia, the company owned by billionaire Philip Green, has also said 500 of its 2,500 head office workforce would be cut.

"Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our business including the closure for over three months of all our stores and head offices, we have today informed staff of the need to restructure our head offices," the company said.

Upper Crust owner SSP has also said up to 5,000 jobs are under threat as it shakes up the group following plunging passenger numbers at railway stations and airports due to the coronavirus pandemic.