John Lewis to close more stores as Covid crisis wipes out profits

John Lewis Partnership has warned it will not be reopening some stores when lockdown ends, after slumping to a £517m loss for 2020.

The John Lewis Partnership group, which also owns Waitrose, announced in November that it would consult over a proposal to cut up to 1,500 roles.

The retail giant is due to make a decision on how many of its 42 John Lewis shops will close at the end of March, with some speculation that older branches such as Cambridge’s Grand Arcade shop could be at risk.

Chairman Sharon White said today: “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.

“We are currently in discussions with landlords and final decisions are expected by the end of March.”

Reader Image, Sharon White

“Closing a store is one of the hardest decisions we can make as a Partnership,” Ms White said.

“We are acutely sensitive to the impact on our Partners, customers and communities, particularly at a time when retail and our high streets are undergoing major structural change.

“We will do everything we can to lessen the impact and will continue to provide community funds to support local areas.”

The company, which also includes the Waitrose supermarket chain in its stable, announced last year that it would not pay a bonus to its staff, known as partners, for the first time since 1953 and cut 1,300 jobs amid COVID-19 restrictions on stores.

It said then that eight stores were to go, including its Birmingham, Watford and Newbury sites and the Sunday Times has since reported that eight more are at risk.

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