The John Lewis Partnership has announced that it is not planning to reopen eight of its 42 John Lewis shops from lockdown, as it rebalances its store estate to reflect how customers want to shop.
The Partnership also confirmed plans to transfer the running of its Waitrose Distribution Centre in Leyland to XPO Logistics. The remaining 34 John Lewis shops will reopen from 12 April subject to Government guidance – with the exception of Glasgow, which will reopen from 26 April, and Edinburgh, which will reopen on 14 May.
The eight shops identified for closure include four ‘At Home’ shops in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells, and four department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.
At the Partnership’s full year results earlier this month, a plan was announced to reshape the business in response to how their customers increasingly want to shop in-store and online. This follows substantial research to identify and cater for new customer shopping habits in different parts of the country. As part of this, they believe it can no longer profitably sustain a large John Lewis store in locations where there are not enough customers, which has resulted in the proposed closures. The eight shops were financially challenged prior to the pandemic.
Given the significant shift to online shopping in recent years – and the belief that this trend will not materially reverse – John Lewis does not think the performance of these eight stores can be substantially improved. Expectations are that 60% – 70% of John Lewis sales will be made online in the future. Nearly 50% of their customers now use a combination of both in-store and online browsing when making a purchase.
Research indicates that John Lewis customers want more convenient access to John Lewis so plans are to improve the next day Click & Collect service in Waitrose stores, and to offer more local collection points through third parties. Trials for the introduction of John Lewis shopping areas in Waitrose stores are going ahead, and by the autumn, Waitrose general merchandise products will be sourced by John Lewis. Testing of new formats for smaller, local neighbourhood shops which offer the best of John Lewis are also planned.
Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Today’s announcement is incredibly sad news for our affected Partners, for our customers and for the communities we’ve served over many years. The high street is going through its biggest change for a generation and we are changing with it. Customers will still be able to get the trusted service that we are known for – however and wherever they want to shop.”
Pippa Wicks, Executive Director for John Lewis, said: “Closing stores is the toughest thing we do as a Partnership because we all own our business. If the closures are confirmed, every effort will be made to find new roles for Partners and for us to continue to serve our customers by providing access to John Lewis in different ways. Alongside a growing online business and the expansion of next day Click & Collect, we will invest in our in-store services and experiences, as well as new, smaller neighbourhood formats and the introduction of John Lewis ranges in more Waitrose shops.”
John Lewis is continuing to trade as normal online and will reopen their remaining
stores in line with Government guidelines.