Retailer John Lewis has confirmed the closure of eight stores, putting almost 1,500 jobs at risk as it looks to emerge from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company said the closures included department stores in York, Peterborough, Sheffield and Aberdeen and four “at home” stores, in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells. All premises are currently closed because of the UK national lockdown and would not reopen when rules are relaxed on April 12.
John Lewis last year shut permanently eight stores as more people shifted to online shopping during lockdown. It said it had conducted “substantial research to identify and cater for new customer shopping habits in different parts of the country”.
“As part of this, we can unfortunately no longer profitably sustain a large John Lewis store in some locations where we do not have enough customers, which is resulting in the proposed closures. The eight shops were financially challenged prior to the pandemic,” the company said in a statement.
“Given the significant shift to online shopping in recent years – and our belief that this trend will not materially reverse – we do not think the performance of these eight stores can be substantially improved. We expect 60% to 70% of John Lewis sales to be made online in the future. Nearly 50% of our customers now use a combination of both store and online when making a purchase.”
The company said it would make “every effort” to find new jobs for those affected, including at its Waitrose supermarkets and online businesses.
It added that it would also be outsourcing its Waitrose distribution centre in Leyland to the logistics firm XPO, affecting 436 staff. Those workers will no longer be “partners” with access to the group’s annual bonus but be transferred to XPO this summer.