John Lewis confirms store closures as others reopen

Photo shows: John Lewis's Cheltenham store
John Lewis stores in Newbury and Swindon are two of the eight which the Bracknell-headquartered retailer has confirmed will not reopen. The other shops identified for closure include two of the smallest in the estate – travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, and ones in Croydon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Birmingham and Watford. Approximately 1,300 Partners across the eight shops will now enter into consultation, the company has confirmed.

This announcement comes as the final wave of shop reopenings is confirmed including Oxford which will reopen on 30 July. The Swindon outlet will also reopen on 30 July.

John Lewis’s Cheltenham department store, which only opened its doors to the public in 2018, reopened on June 15, along with its stores in Solihull and High Wycombe,

Prior to the pandemic, the eight shops identified were already financially challenged and the pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online, said the company. Before the virus struck, 40 percent of John Lewis sales were online. This could now be closer to 60 to 70 percent of total sales this year and next.

Both John Lewis and Waitrose will continue to invest heavily in ecommerce to reflect this shift. Waitrose has already doubled its online capacity since the beginning of the pandemic. This will grow further, with a third online fulfilment centre in Greenford opening in partnership with Chippenham-based logistics company Wincanton, and the continuing expansion of Waitrose Rapid, which allows shoppers to order and receive essential items within two hours. Further investment in is also planned.

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