Boss clarifies John Lewis Sheffield relocation plan – as retailer gives update on reopening
Further details have emerged of a plan for John Lewis to relocate part of its Sheffield operation.
The firm has office space in a building called Barkers Pool House next to its department store in Sheffield city centre, but from November these facilities will be moved into the existing John Lewis shop to make way for the council-led £470 million Heart of the City II scheme.
Barkers Pool House sits on part of the site earmarked for a block containing a new Radisson Blu hotel. John Lewis has had offices there since the 1970s – eventually a bridge was built over Burgess Street providing a direct link to the store.
The relocation was discussed at a meeting of Sheffield Council’s overview and scrutiny management committee, held via videoconference.
Nalin Seneviratne, the authority’s director of city centre development, said: “John Lewis occupies part of Barkers Pool House and they have agreed to vacate that space from November this year to enable the redevelopment of the block to happen. They will be relocating their facilities that are in Barkers Pool House to the current store building."
John Lewis closed all of its outlets in March as the coronavirus crisis worsened. It has already named the first of its department stores that will reopen from June 15 with social distancing measures in place, but Sheffield’s branch is not on the list.
In April it was reported that the group had started talks on which of its department stores should keep their doors closed permanently after lockdown. Later the company – owned by its employees who are known as ‘partners’ – said online sales had increased, but warned annual sales could plunge by 35 per cent in a worst-case scenario.
Until 2002 the Sheffield store traded as Cole Brothers, which originally started on Fargate in 1847.
A spokeswoman for John Lewis said: “Our utmost priority is the safety of our customers and partners which is why we are taking a phased approach to the reopening of shops, with comprehensive safety and social distancing measures in place.
“Depending on the response from customers and partners to our new ways of operating with respect to social distancing, more shops will open throughout the summer.”