John Lewis to close first store in years
John Lewis has announced plans to close its Knight & Lee store in Southsea in July, which at 35,000 square feet is the smallest in its portfolio.
The department store said the decision was driven by several factors, including the size, age and condition of the store, and the significant investment required to modernise it. Additionally, the company said a unique commercial opportunity presented itself at the end of last year to sell the freehold of the building.
The move could indicate that John Lewis is following other retailers including Marks & Spencer and Debenhams with a store closure programme, however the department store chain said no further closures are planned at this time.
While other big brand retailers are closing stores to adjust to the rise of online shopping, John Lewis said last year that it will maintain its existing estate with some resizing, repurposing or relocating over time to ensure the shops are in the right locations.
The Southsea closure puts 127 jobs at risk of redundancy, but the firm will try to find them new roles in John Lewis and Waitrose shops in the surrounding area.
Dino Rocos, operations director, said: “We have not taken this decision lightly and we considered every implication for our partners, customers and the community. However, a unique combination of factors, including the significant investment required and the opportunity to sell the property freehold, makes this the right decision for the financial sustainability of our business.
“We also want to bring the very best of what John Lewis & Partners has to offer to all of our customers and, in Southsea, we believe we can better serve them through our Southampton and Chichester shops, and online with an improved Click & Collect offer at Waitrose & Partners Southsea.
“Our team at Knight & Lee are a loyal and long-serving team of Partners. We are doing everything we can to offer them roles elsewhere in our business and finding suitable roles for as many Partners as possible is an absolute priority. Nevertheless, there will unfortunately be some redundancies and we will work hard to support all the partners affected.”
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