Over 1,000 John Lewis staff jobs at risk as 8 stores earmarked for closure

The department store chain’s Birmingham Bullring shopping centre location is among the largest to close its doors

John Lewis has said it will not reopen eight of its UK shops in order to safeguard its future.

The world-renowned fashion, beauty and homeware retailer has earmarked two full-sized department stores at Birmingham’s Bullring and Watford’s intu shopping centres for closure.

John Lewis At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth will also close permanently, alongside two of the retailer’s smaller stores at Heathrow airport and St Pancras train station in London.

The announcement is expected to affect around 1,300 jobs, but John Lewis has said it will attempt to find new roles within the company where possible.

“Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and Partners,” said John Lewis’ Chair Sharon White.

“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.

“Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many Partners as possible within our business,” added the former Ofcom boss.

John Lewis Chair Sharon White

John Lewis is expected to deploy a three month support programme for staff with an outplacement specialist to help with CV writing and interview skills.

Prior to the pandemic, the eight stores were said to be in financial trouble but this was accelerated by the enforced lockdown.

White said there were still reasons to be optimistic about the group’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,” she explained.

Earlier this month, John Lewis was crowned the most satisfactory retailer by its shoppers, with a score of 85.3, in the UK’s Customer Satisfaction Index.

“We will soon announce the output of our strategic review, which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers,” White added.

The announcement comes as the final wave of shop reopenings were confirmed by the chain.

Nine shops across the UK, including Sheffeild, Reading and Aberdeen, are expected to welcome back consumers on 30 July.

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