John Lewis will begin to reopen its shops for customers as part of a gradual approach from Monday 15 June, starting with its Poole and Kingston department stores, followed by 11 others on Thursday 18 June.
Depending on the response from customers and staff to new ways of operating with respect to social distancing, more shops will open throughout the summer. The decision follows the Government’s guidance earlier this week on easing restrictions for non-essential retailers.
Learning from the social distancing measures the Partnership has taken in Waitrose shops, John Lewis plans initially to open just under a quarter of its shops as part of a steady, gradual approach with rigorous safety and social distancing measures in place. Branches selected to open have been chosen primarily because of their accessibility by car.
The business will undertake an ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of each of the operational changes it implements during this initial phase of reopening, making adjustments as it goes to ensure the best and safest customer and employee experience possible.
John Lewis temporarily closed its 50 department stores on 23 March for the first time in its 155-year history. However, johnlewis.com has continued to operate successfully, experiencing a significant uplift in sales.
Sharon White, Partner & Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The momentous events of the last few months have tested our resilience as a business, but our resourcefulness, innovation and the spirit of cooperation between Partners (staff) has really shone through.
“It’s been heartwarming to see John Lewis Partners stepping into different roles to support our Waitrose supermarkets and to keep johnlewis.com running and I’m proud of everything our Partners across both our brands have done to help us get to this point.
Our shops reopening is a sign of hope as we begin to find our new normal. There’s an opportunity, now, for us, to come back stronger as a business, and offer the safety and reassurance that customers will want.
However, while we have experience of social distancing in our Waitrose shops, we will need to establish new ways of working in our department stores. We are taking this cautious approach to be able to learn as we go and to make sure that our shops are as safe as they can possibly be for our customers and Partners.”
As John Lewis takes the first steps in reopening its doors for business, a raft of measures will be introduced into its shops drawing from the Partnership’s experience of applying and managing social distancing in its Waitrose supermarkets and from within the delivery and warehousing aspects of its e-commerce businesses. These include:
In addition, customers will be able to learn more about the measures John Lewis are taking in branches via a short film, which will be hosted on johnlewis.com.
Depending on customer feedback and how the first phase of openings progress, other initiatives which may be considered include: virtual queueing, returns drop boxes and enabling Click & Collect from branch carparks.
Branches opening in the first stage are; from Monday 15 June: Kingston and Poole and from Thursday 18 June; Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
Prior to opening, each shop will undertake a four-week reopening preparation programme. This includes counting stock, replenishment, preparation of systems, merchandising, deep cleaning, the introduction of social distancing measures, staff training and final pre-opening checks.