Wednesday 1 July 2020 1:44 pm

John Lewis set to announce job cuts and store closures

Department store giant John Lewis is planning to slash jobs and close some of its stores as the coronavirus crisis continues to weigh on the retail sector.

John Lewis has so far reopened 22 of its 50 UK stores as the lockdown begins to ease, but said it is likely that some shops will remain permanently shuttered. 

A spokesperson told City A.M. “The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now and we have shared this with our partners. 

“As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. However no decision has been made and any details would be shared with partners first by the middle of July.”  

The retail giant’s plans were first shared with staff at the company, which is owned by its employees. The number of stores and jobs has yet to be decided. 

In a letter to 80,000 employees, chief executive Sharon White said John Lewis is unlikely to pay its workers a bonus next year as the company wrestles to improve profitability, the Evening Standard reported.

White said: “Regrettably, it is likely that there will be implications for some partners’ jobs. We are in active discussions with landlords about ending some leases and renegotiating others to make the terms more flexible.”

John Lewis is set to shutter its Partnership House office in London’s Victoria Street.

“We are rethinking our head office space to cement more flexible working that has become a feature of the crisis, and will be relinquishing Partnership House in London,” White said.

John Lewis today said it plans to reopen a further ten shops that have been shuttered since lockdown began in March, including stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stratford and the Trafford Centre. John Lewis’ flagship Oxford Street store in London will reopen on 16 July.  

The store closures come as a further blow for John Lewis, ahe company was in deep water before the outbreak of coronavirus. In March, the company revealed that annual profits slumped 23 per cent to £123m. The company subsequently slashed its annual bonus to two per cent of employees’ salaries — the lowest since 1953. 

The retailer, which also owns supermarket giant Waitrose, launched a review of the business which it said would involve “right sizing” its stores across both brands.