John Lewis is considering closing more department stores - what we know so far

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 11:37 am
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2021, 11:37 am
More store closures could be on the horizon for John Lewis (Photo: Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

John Lewis is reportedly considering closing more branches of its department stores in an effort to cut costs, according to The Times.

It has been reported that Dame Sharon White, chairman of The John Lewis Partnership, is now considering further cost cutting methods.

How many stores could be closed?

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It is understood that the brand is considering closing up to eight of its stores, bringing the total number of stores down from 42 to 34.

The Times reports that the chain’s bigger and older shops are thought to be the most at risk.

The final number of closures is still to be finalised, as it is subject to negotiations with landlords - in some instances, John Lewis may close a store, but relocate it to a smaller property nearby.

The move could be revealed at the same time as the company’s annual results are announced next month.

What will happen to staff?

While John Lewis Partnership has not yet commented on the reports, when the company previously closed eight of its stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk, a spokesperson said that workers would be cut or redeployed.

A statement at the time said: “Wherever possible, we will seek to find new roles in the Partnership for Partners whose roles become redundant.”

Dame Sharon added: “Losing Partners is incredibly hard as an employee-owned business. Wherever possible, we will seek to find new roles in the Partnership and we’ll provide the best support and retraining opportunities for Partners who leave us.”

How has John Lewis been affected by the pandemic?

Last July, the chain closed eight of its stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk, as its overall trading was affected by the shift to online sales during the pandemic.

Shops in Croydon, Watford, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth all closed their doors, as well as smaller hubs at Heathrow airport and London St Pancras station.

A new store in Birmingham was also shut down.

Staff were also told that they wouldn’t be paid a bonus for the first time since 1953, after profits fell by 46 per cent in the first half of 2020.

With a shift in the way that customers shop, John Lewis now expects more than 60 per cent of its sales to be made online by 2025.

Dame Sharon said: “The pandemic has brought forward changes in consumer habits which might have taken five years into five months.

“Both brands entered this crisis with strong and established online businesses, and in the case of Waitrose, plans for expansion well under way in preparation for the end of the relationship with Ocado.”

How has the high street been impacted by Covid-19?

According to a study by accountancy firm KPMG, England’s high streets could lose up to 400,000 retail jobs as a result of more people working from home and shopping online admin the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG in the UK, said: “As people travel less for work or to shop, town and city centres will need alternative offerings to fill vacant space and attract people to the area as we hopefully leave the pandemic behind sometime this year.

“High streets will need to be reimagined as cultural and recreational hubs that will act as magnets for businesses and jobs able to transform less prosperous areas.”

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site The Yorkshire Post