John Lewis has confirmed the latest stores that won’t reopen after lockdown with eight locations set to shut down for good as its other 34 start reopening from April 12. The eight shops identified for closure include four ‘At Home’ locations in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells, and four full department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York. Some 1,465 staff will be affected by this and the company is now entering into consultation with them. The company said the move comes as it rebalances its store estate to reflect how customers want to shop. John Lewis sees online as its key growth area and has already seen the channel move from 40% of its sales just a couple of years ago to between 60% and 70% now. It expects this trend to continue even after stores are allowed to reopen.
It said it has conducted substantial research to identify and cater for new customer shopping habits in different parts of the country. As part of this, it 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”. Its research also showed that convenience is key for shoppers and it will be improving the next-day Click & Collect service in Waitrose stores and offering more local collection points through third-parties. It is trialling the introduction of John Lewis shopping areas in its Waitrose stores and by the autumn, Waitrose general merchandise products will be sourced by John Lewis. It will also be testing new formats of smaller, local neighbourhood shops offering the best of John Lewis.