The Seventies: an uphill struggle

A John Barnes electric delivery van from 1969

Brent Cross trumps John Barnes

The dominance of the food hall over sales was frankly worrying for the rest of the department store. Matters were made far worse by the opening of the Brent Cross Shopping Centre a mere three miles away. Not only was it the country’s first indoor regional shopping centre, but John Lewis Brent Cross was the anchor shop. The Partnership for a while considered moving the entire business and its employees to Brent Cross, but unfortunately received no good offers for the old John Barnes site. Trading continued, but not before several ‘heavy’ departments were dropped, including bedding, carpets and large electrical appliances. From this point onwards, it seemed only a matter of time before the store was closed all together.

Future determined

With the department store not profitable enough to run, and the food department too good to let go, the course was set for the closure of the John Barnes department store, and the opening of Waitrose John Barnes. This is exactly what happened.

Comments about this page

  • There was another electric vehicle used to move stock from The Mews to the shop. It was controled by a “driver” walking in front holding a driving pole in one hand which served as steering, speed and brakes all in one. At times the vehicle would get slower and slower as the battery ran down. More than once I saw a couple of partners pushing from behind to get it up to the Finchley Road and round the oneway road system.

    By Colin Richard Bright (13/01/2022)

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