On 23rd March 2020, the Government announced a nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis, this included the closure of all non-essential retailers.
Whilst closed under the Government’s lockdown restrictions, Partners continued to work tirelessly, transferring stock to distribution centres to allow the Partnership to continue trading online with the best possible availability. In addition, John Lewis Partners also opted to offer their help to Waitrose branches, who were struggling in the wake of panic-buying and and a heavy increase in the number of dot com orders being made.
Whilst lockdown measures were eventually eased with John Lewis shops opening gradually, on Thursday 9th July, the Partnership announced the closure of eight John Lewis stores. This included the At Home stores Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, as well as full size department stores at Watford and Birmingham.The closures also affected the Partnership’s smallest two shops, St Pancras and Heathrow. Unfortunately, as they had been closed throughout lockdown, these eight shops were never to re-open again.
In a statement to the press, Sharon White, Chairman, commented: “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.