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1,400 jobs at risk at John Lewis following store closures

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Eight John Lewis stores will not reopen once the current lockdown ends, the retailer has announced.

John Lewis Partnership, the parent company of the department store, said that eight of its 42 shops will be closed, as it attempts to “rebalance” to reflect how people now prefer to stop.

The eight stores which will close include four ‘At Home’ stores in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells and four department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.

The move means that 1,465 jobs are now at risk, though John Lewis said it would make “every effort” to find alternative roles within the organisation for as many staff members as possible.

John Lewis reported its first-ever full year loss last month, having taken a hit from the pandemic pushing people to shop online rather than in person.

And it said that following its own research to identify customer shopping habits in different parts of the country, it could no longer “profitably sustain a large John Lewis store in some locations where we do not have enough customers”. It added that the eight shops which are being closed were “financially challenged” before the pandemic.

It added that the “significant shift” to online shopping in recent years meant that it now expects 60-70% of its sales in future to come from online shoppers rather than in-person spending.

John Lewis argued that having fewer bigger stores will allow it to invest in improving its remaining shops, while it promised to improve the next day click and collect services on offer in Waitrose stores. It is going to trial the introduction of John Lewis shopping areas in Waitrose stores, with Waitrose general merchandise products sourced by John Lewis by the autumn. 

Pippa Wicks, executive director for John Lewis, said: “Closing stores is the toughest thing we do as a Partnership because we all own our business. If the closures are confirmed, every effort will be made to find new roles for Partners and for us to continue to serve our customers by providing access to John Lewis in different ways.

“Alongside a growing online business and the expansion of next day Click & Collect, we will invest in our in-store services and experiences, as well as new, smaller neighbourhood formats and the introduction of John Lewis ranges in more Waitrose shops.” 

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