John Lewis has confirmed plans to axe eight stores, including its flagship Birmingham and Watford branches, after announcing they were at risk last month.
The retailer said the affected stores were “already financially challenged prior to the pandemic”, as it warned they “would not be commercially viable in the future”.
The business said it would work with staff to find new roles where possible.
The stores affected are: Croydon, Swindon, Tamworth, Newbury, Heathrow Terminal two, London St Pancras station, Birmingham Bullring and Watford.
In a statement, John Lewis said: “This is a very sad occasion and one we never thought was imaginable when we first opened these shops.
“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.”
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The ailing company first announced closures in July, revealing it had entered consultation with 1,300 employees who faced redundancy.
It came a week after the chain’s chairman told 80,000 employees that its prized bonus may be scrapped next year as the company struggles to ramp up sales.
It said the decision has been made to “secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers’ shopping needs”.
Prior to the pandemic, the eight branches were already classed as “financially challenged”, with 40% of the entire chain’s sales now driven online.
Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership said the cuts will enable to company to remain “sustainable”.
Those who have worked with the business for more than a year will qualify for redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age.
Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.
“Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and Partners,” White explained.
“However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the Partnership – and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop.
“Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many Partners as possible within our business.
“There are many reasons to be optimistic about the Partnership’s future. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands and we have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic by responding to the new needs of customers. We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.”
In March, John Lewis revealed its annual profits had slumped 23% to £123million as it slashed its annual bonus to 2% of salary.
The annual payout reached a 67% year low. It peaked in 1953, when all partners received a 24% reward.
Full list of John Lewis stores closing down
Croydon , opened in August 2010
Swindon, opened in October 2010
Tamworth, opened in October 2011
Newbury, opened in April 2012
Heathrow Terminal Two, opened in June 2014
London St Pancras Train Station, opened in October 2014
Birmingham, Bullring Shopping Centre, opened in September 2015
Watford, Harlequin Shopping Centre, opened in August 1990
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