John Lewis warns it will permanently close more stores after losing £517million

JOHN Lewis has warned it will shut more stores after posting a £517million loss for last year.

The group, which also owns upmarket grocery chain Waitrose, said it does not expect all its John Lewis shops to reopen at the end of lockdown.

It did not say how many of John Lewis' 42 shops are under threat, but said it was in talks with landlords and will make a final decision which ones would close at the end of March.

It announced the news in its financial results for the year ending January 30 2021.

The shop said its £517m loss was mainly due to restructuring and redundancy costs from store closures, a shift to online shopping, and changes to head office operations.

It scrapped its staff bonus for the first time since 1953.

The shop said it wanted to be in a position to pay the bonus to workers, but said it had been a "very difficult decision not to".

It said it is "committed" to restarting bonuses as soon as its profit reached £150m.

Chairman Sharon White said: "There is no getting away from the fact that some areas can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store.

"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.

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

The department store's latest store closure announcement

It marks the latest blow to the Covid-battered high street, after industry experts warned last year that the pandemic had been the the “worst time ever for retail” .

Retail leaders estimate that one in five high street stores plan to close permanently, and shops have axed tens of thousands of jobs during the crisis in the struggle for survival.


More to follow…

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