JOHN Lewis is permanently closing eight of its stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.
The store closures mark the latest casualty for the struggling UK high street, which has already seen several big-name retailers announce job cuts or collapse completely following the coronavirus crisis.
John Lewis revealed which shops won’t reopen following lockdown in an announcement this morning.
The list includes two travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.
The department store chain says the shop closures are necessary to “secure the business’s long-term future”.
It confirmed as many as 1,300 workers are now at risk of being made redundant following the decision.
A consultation process will now follow, with John Lewis saying it will make “every effort” to find new roles for affected staff who want to stay in the company.
John Lewis says the stores marked for closure were struggling financially before the pandemic due to more customers shopping online.
But coronavirus has “accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online”.
Before the virus, 40 per cent of John Lewis sales were online – but the company predicts this could now be closer to 60 to 70 per cent of total sales this year and next.
The announcement from John Lewis comes as the final wave of its shop reopenings were confirmed.
A further nine shops in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield will reopen on 30 July.
This is on top of its Leicester and Swindon Outlet stores, which were already lined up to reopen on that day.
John Lewis has 51 stores in the UK.
The department store chain has been reopening branches in stages after homeware shops were given the green light to welcome back customers on May 21.
John Lewis has so far reopened 22 shops, while another 21 will open their doors later in July.
John Lewis isn’t the only retailer to announce store closures in recent weeks.
Pret a Manger announced it will close 30 shops, while Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley have already collapsed.
Debenhams has also been forced to call in administrators for the second time in 12 months.
We’ve got a full round-up of all the shops and restaurants that have gone bust here.
It comes as the Centre for Retail Research predicts that 20,000 shops could close for good this year.
Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and Partners.
“However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the Partnership – and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop.
“Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many Partners as possible within our business.”