// John Lewis’ Southsea store, which trades as Knight & Lee, will close in summer
// 127 staff affected, with redundancies likely
// Knight & Lee is John Lewis’ smallest full-line branch in its portfolio of 51 stores
John Lewis has announced the closure of its Knight & Lee store in Southsea, placing 127 staff members at risk of losing their jobs as they enter a consultation period.
The department store retailer said the 35,000sq ft Knight & Lee store – which makes it the smallest full-line shop in its portfolio of 51 stores – will close down in July.
John Lewis said the decision to close down the historic store was “driven by a number of factors specific to this site”.
This includes the physical condition, size, age and shape of the property and how all of these not only restricts the customer offer, but also requires significant investment to modernise.
The retailer added that at the end of last year, a commercial opportunity presented itself to sell the freehold of the building and close Knight & Lee.
John Lewis also highlighted that its strategy update last year includes a focus on maintaining the existing store estate, “with some resizing, repurposing or relocating over time”.
“It keeps its estate under review to ensure these shops are offering customers inspiration, are in the right locations and of the right size to deliver financial returns,” John Lewis said in a statement.
The Knight & Lee closure puts all 127 shop staff at risk of redundancy, but John Lewis said “every effort” would be made to find them roles in John Lewis or Waitrose shops in the surrounding area.
The shop is not open today to allow for discussions with staff, but will reopen tomorrow.
John Lewis said it was not planning other store closures at this time.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and we considered every implication for our partners, customers and the community,” John Lewis operations director Dino Rocos said.
“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.”
He added: “Our team at Knight & Lee are a loyal and long-serving team of partners.
“We are doing everything we can to offer them roles elsewhere in our business and finding suitable roles for as many Partners as possible is an absolute priority.
“Nevertheless, there will unfortunately be some redundancies and we will work hard to support all the partners affected.
“We want to thank our partners and Knight & Lee customers for their loyalty over the years.”