John Lewis confirms it is axing Southsea store putting 127 job at risk – and is its first closure since 2006
- The store will be closing in July this year, the retailer said in a statement
- Retailer said the size and condition of the building ‘restricts the customer offer’
- Warned earlier in the month that the annual staff bonus could be quashed
High Street stalwart the John Lewis Partnership is closing a store in Britain for the first time since 2006.
Knight & Lee & Partners in Southsea, which at 35,000 sq ft is the smallest full line shop in its estate, will be closing in July this year.
The closure means all of the store’s 127 staff are at ‘risk of redundancy’, John Lewis admitted in a statement.
Closure: High Street stalwart John Lewis Partnership is closing a store in the UK for the first time since 2006
‘Every effort will be made to find them roles in John Lewis and Waitrose shops in the surrounding area’, the group said.
The retailer said the size and condition of the building ‘restricts the customer offer.’
The site in Southsea has been run as a shop since at least 1887 and was purchased by John Lewis in 1934.
The store in Southsea is not opening today ‘to allow for discussions with Partners and will reopen tomorrow.’
The retailer said it was not planning any further closures at present.
Dino Rocos, Partner & 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.’
The decision to close Southsea’s store comes as John Lewis ploughs ahead with its ‘strategy update’, which includes ‘maintaining the existing estate, with some resizing, repurposing or relocating over time.’
The retailer said that Southsea customers will be able to shop online or visit the group’s stores in Southampton and Chichester.
Job losses: The closure in Southsea means 127 people are at risk of being made redundant
Earlier this year, Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, outlined the challenges facing reatilers.
He said: ‘Two main factors are affecting the retail sector – oversupply of physical space and relatively weak consumer demand.’
Last September, the group admitted its profits for the year would be substantially lower than 2017-18’s profit of £289million.
For the six months to 28 July, the group’s profits sank by 99 per cent, against a £1.2million profit reported at the same point a year earlier.
Earlier this month, John Lewis dropped a bombshell warning that its annual staff bonus could be quashed for the first time since 1953, amid another hard fought Christmas.
Its 83,000 employees are usually awarded the payout in March, but they may be disappointed this year following slower sales growth and an expectation that profits will be ‘substantially lower’.
Outgoing chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: ‘The board will need to consider carefully in March, following the usual process, whether payment of a bonus is prudent in the light of business and economic prospects at that time.’
In a recent trading update, John Lewis revealed a 1 per cent uplift in sales at the department store chain and a 0.3 per cent rise at Waitrose over the festive period.
No more closures? John Lewis said it was not planning any further closures at present