UPDATE – EIGHT MORE STORE CLOSURES ANNOUNCED

The retailer said that some locations could not sustain a large store and has announced that it will not reopen eight of its stores once lockdown eases.

Four At Home shops in Ashford, Tunbridge Wells, Basingstoke, and Chester will close – as well as the department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York, stating that the eight shops were “financially challenged prior to the pandemic”.

Earlier this month, the retailer warned that it would be making more store closures after the impact of the pandemic had led it to report a hefty annual loss.

The partnership has now axed around a third of its stores in less than a year.

JOHN LEWIS WARNS OF MORE STORE CLOSURES

John Lewis has warned of further store closures after the pandemic saw the company experience its first ever annual loss.

The group reported a loss of £517m for the year to January, against profits of £146m the previous year. It does not expect all of its department stores to reopen once lockdown restrictions ease.

The chain was considering closing up to eight more stores to try to cut costs. Any further closures would be in addition to eight already announced in 2020. Talks with landlords are ongoing and it will make a final decision about the number of shops to close, at the end of March.

The rise in internet shopping, accelerated by various lockdown measures during the pandemic, has forced John Lewis to rethink how many stores it needs.

Chairman Sharon White said that the decision to close stores was painful but necessary due to a “decade of changes in shopping habits in one year. There is no getting away from the fact that some areas can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store. Regrettably, we do not expect to reopen all our John Lewis shops at the end of lockdown, which will also have implications for our supply chain.”

John Lewis embarked upon a big expansion in 2007, almost doubling the number of stores in its portfolio, but it’s now set to rein those numbers in. The group announced last July that it was closing John Lewis stores in Birmingham, Croydon, Watford, Newbury, Swindon, and Tamworth, as well as the smaller hubs at St Pancras station and Heathrow, with the overall loss of 1,300 jobs.