Wednesday 23 January 2019 1:16 pm

John Lewis to close historic Knight & Lee department store in Southsea

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John Lewis today said it is shutting its historic Knight & Lee department store in Southsea in the chain’s first closure for more than a decade.

The department store said it will close Knight & Lee, which at 35,000 square feet (sq ft) is its smallest outlet, in July this year.

Read more: John Lewis enjoys sales boost after strong Christmas performance

John Lewis said the site, which was opened in 1865 and taken over by the chain in 1933, “restricts the customer offer” due to its size and condition.

It said significant investment would be required to modernise Knight & Lee, and said an opportunity had emerged at the end of last year to sell the site.

Dino Rocos, partner and 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 Southsea branch was closed today as management informed staff of the closure. It will reopen tomorrow.

John Lewis said it will try to offer staff roles elsewhere in its business, but warned there will be some redundancies.

The department store chain defied festive retail gloom to deliver better-than-expected sales over the Christmas period. But the retailer said it may have to cut staff bonuses as full-year profits are expected to be “significantly lower” than the year before.

Read more: Retail sector suffers worst Christmas in a decade as sales stagnate

But chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield, who is due to step down next year, has acknowledged that an “oversupply of physical space” is affecting the retail sector.

John Lewis said it is not currently planning other closures.