‘Highly unlikely’ all John Lewis stores will reopen

John Lewis has said it is “highly unlikely” it will reopen all 50 of its stores following lockdown.

The British department store chain was forced to close all its stores in March for the first time in its 155-year history as part of the country’s Covid-19 response measures.

Since non-essential stores were permitted to reopen in England from 15 June, the company has been reopening its stores through a phased approach. On Wednesday, the company announced plans to open a further 10 stores in July, including ones in Scotland and Wales. That will bring the total of reopened stores to 32, and the company said more would be announced in the summer.

John Lewis to close Victoria office

But on the same day, John Lewis said that the chances were low that all of the closed stores would reopen. “The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now and we have shared this with our partners,” John Lewis chairman Sharon White said in a statement. “As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. However no decision has been made and any details would be shared with partners first by the middle of July.”

It is also planning on closing one of its two offices in Victoria, London. “We are rethinking our head office space to cement more flexible working that has become a feature of the crisis, and will be relinquishing Partnership House in London,” White said.

It is the latest in what has been a bleak week of news for British retail as companies grapple with new social distancing measures and look to mitigate the financial impact of lockdown. British luxury department store chain Harrods announced it was looking to cut up to 14 percent of its 4,800-strong workforce , while Topshop-owner Arcadia said it is to cut around 500 roles from its 2,500-strong head office workforce. Meanwhile, British menswear retailer TM Lewin is reportedly to permanently close all 66 of its stores after falling into administration.

Photo credit: John Lewis

 

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