// John Lewis Partnership operations director Andrew Murphy urges gov’t to provide clarity on stores reopening for Christmas
// The firm fears it will have insufficient time to prepare for seasonal demand
John Lewis Partnership has reportedly urged the government to provide clarity on whether stores can reopen in time for Christmas following temporary closures in England due to the second lockdown.
The partnership’s group operations director Andrew Murphy said the government must “provide clarity as soon as possible” on whether stores will be able to reopen in early December, Mail on Sunday reported.
The John Lewis Partnership fears it will have insufficient time to prepare for seasonal demand.
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Murphy said big stores would need time to “swing into gear”, though he was “confident” John Lewis would be able to handle all its deliveries and was “well-positioned going into this”.
Last week, England went into a second national lockdown, which entails the closure of non-essential services for one month.
Thousands of John Lewis department store staff have been redeployed to the online business or to sister grocery business Waitrose.
However, Murphy said he needed to know whether to prepare to bring temporary staff into shops or to direct up to 400,000 product lines to online warehouses and delivery channels.
Murphy added that he was not pressuring the government to reopen stores but hoped for a clear statement over strategy, perhaps within the next two weeks.
John Lewis could make up to 20 per cent of its annual profit in the crucial three weeks to December 24, he revealed.