// John Lewis reveals locations of the eight stores it will close permanently
// The affected branches include its flagship Birmingham and Watford branches
// Stores were facing challenges prior to the coronavirus crisis
John Lewis has confirmed the list of eight stores that will permanently close after announcing they were at risk last month.
The department store chain said the affected stores, including its flagship Birmingham and Watford branches, were facing challenges prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Describing it as a “very sad occasion”, John Lewis said it would work with staff to find new roles where possible over the coming weeks.
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The eight John Lewis stores confirmed for closure include the small travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, and two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.
John Lewis said it would not have been able to find a way to turn the stores around and the closures were inevitable.
“This is a very sad occasion and one we never thought was imaginable when we first opened these shops,” a John Lewis spokesman said.
“Our expectation was that we would trade in these locations for many years to come, but they were financially challenged before the pandemic and we have not been able to find a way that would allow us to turn that around.
“We are grateful to those who have expressed their support since announcing the proposed closure last month, and for the incredible professionalism our Partners have shown – they remain our absolute priority and will be fully supported over the coming weeks.”
Parent company John Lewis Partnership first revealed plans to close stores in July, when it entered consultation with 1300 employees who faced redundancy.
A week prior to the initial store closure announcement in July, the bonuses of 80,000 employees were cut as John Lewis Partnership chair Sharon White scurried to find ways to cut costs.
White said the cuts will enable to company to remain “sustainable”.
In March, John Lewis revealed its annual profits had dropped 23 per cent to £123 million as it slashed its annual bonus to two per cent of salary.
The annual payout reached a 67 per cent year low.
Last month, John Lewis Partnership was revealed to be exploring the possibility of branching out to private rented housing as part of five strategic steps to grow the business in a post-coronavirus market.
In a letter sent to 80,000 John Lewis and Waitrose staff, White outlined the next steps in the business strategic review that aim to help the partnership flourish.
The plans are grouped under five areas of strategic focus: “driven by purpose”, “simplifying how we work”, “strengthening retail”, “expanding into more services”, and “partnering to grow”.