The John Lewis Partnership has announced it will not reopen eight John Lewis shops – including Newbury – to ‘secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers’ shopping needs’.
It will now enter into consultation with impacted partners about its proposals.
The shops identified for closure include two of the smallest in the estate – travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras – the At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and two full-size department stores at Hammerson’s Grand Central in Birmingham and intu Watford. Approximately 1,300 partners across the eight shops will now enter into consultation.
This announcement comes as the final wave of shop reopenings is confirmed. A further nine shops in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield will reopen on July 30.
Leicester will also reopen when the local lockdown for the city is lifted, taking the total number of reopened John Lewis shops to 42. The Swindon outlet will also reopen on July 30.
John Lewis said: “If redundancies are confirmed, every effort would be made to find new roles where possible for partners who wish to remain within the Partnership. Opportunities could include transferring to local Waitrose shops or working for johnlewis.com and waitrose.com as they continue to grow. The Partnership has also made a commitment to provide support through a unique Retraining Fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any partner with two years’ service or more.
“All partners would be given access to a three month support programme with an outplacement specialist to help with CV writing and interview skills. In addition to statutory redundancy payments, partners who have worked with the business for more than a year would be entitled to Partnership redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age. Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay. ”
John Lewis said: “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. Before the virus struck, 40% of John Lewis sales were online. This could now be closer to 60 to 70% of total sales this year and next.”