While Elite RXUK Top500 retailer, John Lewis is drawing up plans as to how to open up post lockdown, it is also thought to be looking at keeping some branches shut for good.
According to reports in The Evening Standard, the retailer believes that it is “highly unlikely” that all 50 stores will reopen, with the chain already seen as struggling in the run up to the pandemic – and with sales slumping during the enforced closure.
14,000 of the company’s staff have already been furloughed and the chain also said it would not be re-opening its business in Ireland after the worldwide lockdown ended.
Addressing City analysts later today, Dame Sharon White, the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership is set to outlined the chain’s struggles, is set to ask customers and financial institutions for a cash injection – through an issue of corporate bonds – and is outlining whether a slimmed down portfolio of stores is the way forward.
In a statement, JLP said: “We keep our estate under continuous review in order to ensure we have the right amounts of shops to best serve our customers and remain commercially viable. It is too early to make a decision but, as always, any decision that is made is done with securing the long-term financial sustainability of the Partnership and is always communicated to our Partners first.”
However, Nigel Frith, a senior market analyst at www.asktraders.com believes store closures are now inevitable. “What we are seeing here is simple – if the firm was in a weak position going into the coronavirus lockdown, there is a good chance that it will not be coming out better the other side – and it’s looking like it won’t be,” he says. “In recent years fast fashion and online businesses have thrived, whilst our more traditional brands have struggled to transform and adapt with the current economic climate.”