The John Lewis Partnership has announced it will not reopen eight John Lewis shops to secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers’ shopping needs.
The announcement comes as the final wave of shop reopenings is confirmed. A further nine shops in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield will reopen on 30 July. Leicester will also reopen when the local lockdown for the city is lifted, taking the total number of reopened John Lewis shops to 42. Their Swindon outlet will also reopen on 30 July.
The shops identified for closure include two of the smallest in the estate - travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.
Prior to the pandemic, the eight shops identified were already financially challenged and the pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online. Before the virus struck, 40 percent of John Lewis sales were online. They say this could now be closer to 60 to 70 percent of total sales this year and next.
The John Lewis Partnership will continue to invest heavily in ecommerce to reflect this shift. Waitrose has already doubled its online capacity since the beginning of the pandemic. This will continue to grow and further investment in johnlewis.com is also planned.
John Lewis say their shops have a vital role to play within the business and are working on plans to ensure they continue to meet the needs of customers, alongside a vibrant ecommerce operation. The plans form part of a major strategic review which was announced in March, to ensure the future success of the Partnership.
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 (John Lewis staff). 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.”
“There are many reasons to be optimistic about the Partnership’s future. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands and we have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic by responding to the new needs of customers. We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.”