John Lewis has said it will close eight of its 50 stores permanently in a move that is expected to lead to 1,300 job losses.
The department store chain two of its outlets at St Pancras station in London and Heathrow airport will close their doors as well as four smaller stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth.
The remaining two stores earmarked for closure are major outlets including a flagship store in the Birmingham Bullring shopping centre as well as one in Watford.
The closures were accompanied as the final wave of reopenings was confirmed as John Lewis emerges from its lockdown during the pandemic.
Nine stores in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield in London will reopen on July 30.
“Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and Partners. 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”, said John Lewis chair Sharon White.
The company originally unveiled its store closure plan at the start of July as part of a major cost cutting programme that will also see next year’s dividend scrapped.
One of the first tasks undertaken by White, the former head of telecoms regulator Ofcom, when she joined in February was to launch a review of the John Lewis and Waitrose businesses.
An overhaul of the retailer’s IT staff has already started, while the review will look at how best to use the group’s property base including combining Waitrose and John Lewis stores and product ranges.
The department store warned in March that profits last year had plummeted and it was slashing staff bonuses.