John Lewis to begin converting 45% of London flagship into office space

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John Lewis office flagship
John Lewis could now turn 45% of its Oxford Street branch into dual use space
// John Lewis given permission by Westminster City Council to turn some of its London flagship floors into office space
// John Lewis plans to convert floors three to eight of its Oxford Street branch into dual use space

John Lewis has been given the green light to convert almost half of its London flagship store on Oxford Street into office space, as it scurries to return the business to profitability.

The department store has had a presence in the capital since 1864, and was granted permission by Westminster City Council after drawing up plans for the site.

The council’s planning sub-committee voted unanimously “on the basis of exceptional circumstances to justify the loss of retail floorspace”.


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John Lewis could now turn 45 per cent – which equates to floors three to eight of its Oxford Street branch into dual use space.

These floors currently host kitchen and bathroom products, electrical goods and children’s toys and books.

The changes would leave retail covering most of the basement, ground, first and second floors.

Flexibility to use its footprint for retail or offices gives the company the “opportunity to invest in the retail store for its long-term future”, the council said.

It said offices could bring a new customer base for John Lewis.

A new office entrance was also proposed on the corner of Holles Street and Cavendish Square.

Last week, planning permission was granted to fellow department store chain Debenhams to partially turn the fourth and fifth floors of its London flagship into offices.

The conversion is part of John Lewis’ turnaround plans to return the business to profitability, particularly after swinging to a half-year loss and axing staff bonuses for this financial year.

For the interim period ending July 25, the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose made a pre-tax loss of £635 million – a dramatic plunge compared to the £192 half-year profit it recorded this time last year.

However, on an EBIDTA basis, it made a loss of £55 million – a similar figure to what it recorded in the half-year period last year.

At the time, John Lewis Partnership chairwoman Sharon White said the business applied for planning permission to transform up to three floors of the Oxford Street store into office space for rent.

While no indication of the plans were revealed in its interim results, White has previously said she would look at downsizing stores as part of plans to reshape the business for the future.

She also expressed interest in transforming some of the partnership’s stores into housing for rent.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Turning retail to office space might sound like a good idea but how does this really work? Mass transport remains a problem and there is a lot of empty office space in London already. Surely it would be better to turn it into accommodation to ease the crowding and help with the shortage of affordable space in London – and help people live near where they work, or as sleeping for medical staff etc.
    Companies need to much more realistic and creative in overcoming the problem of real estate costs. We all need 2 meters, which in the area of this store, a worker on minimum wage could not afford to rent

  2. Headline should read…
    John Lewis have obtained planning permission to convert store space into offices..
    There are no plans of action to do anything with the planning consent yet.
    Report facts not speculation.

  3. I don’t think that downsizing is the issue, I just think the extent to which they’re downsizing is too much. This is the flagship store of John Lewis and Partners, This is right at one of the busiest shopping destinations in the world. They can’t possibly manage with just 4 floors. Maybe 5 or 6, but 4 wouldn’t work.

    Despite the dynamics of retail changing and reducing in physical space, it’s not as much of a benefit in such a busy shopping destination.

  4. Maybe one needs multiple post-grad Business qualifications to understand why several flashy new Flannels stores, selling high-ticket top designer clothing are being opened & planned for in various locations, – some with cafes – including High streets, yet the likes of long-standing staples like M&S, John Lewis, House of Fraser are closing stores or converting partially to office space, allegedly. Clearly there are far more monied folk about than endless news stories about rising poverty, decreasing levels of disposable income, food poverty, the influence of the internet in buying habits & failing High streets etc would have us believe.

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