John Lewis set to permanently close Sheffield store in huge blow for city centre

The John Lewis store in Sheffield is set to close for good putting 299 jobs at risk in bombshell news for the city centre.

By David Walsh
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 3:28 pm

The company announced it could no longer ‘profitably sustain’ the shop on Barker’s Pool and it was not planning to reopen it after lockdown.

A spokeswoman said: “We will enter into consultation with the 299 affected Sheffield Partners about our proposals. Should we proceed, we will seek to find alternative roles in the Partnership for as many partners as possible.”

It comes after the company announced a £517m loss and warned some of its 42 sites might close.

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John Lewis Sheffield

Sheffield is one of eight John Lewis shops proposed for closure leaving 1,465 jobs under threat. A final decision will be made after a consultation period with staff, set to end in June.

Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership said: “We appreciate this is incredibly difficult news for our partners and the people of Sheffield. We are acutely aware of our long history in the city and are hugely grateful to all our customers in Sheffield for their loyalty, our partners for their outstanding work over the years and Sheffield City Council for its continued support.

“While the shop was financially challenged prior to the pandemic, we were determined that with additional investment, we would be able to play a key role in the regeneration of the city centre.

“However, the pandemic has had an irreversible impact on retail and we must make difficult decisions to ensure the Partnership is sustainable in the future.

“If the proposal to close goes ahead, we have put together a package of carefully considered support to help our partners and would look to redeploy as many partners as possible.”

Patrick Duffy, head of branch for John Lewis Sheffield, said: “John Lewis holds a special place in my and many people’s hearts in Sheffield, as we have had a presence in the city since 1940. We are incredibly proud of the long and valued legacy of service we’ve held in Sheffield and thank our customers for shopping with us over many years. I also want to thank our partners for all their hard work as we continue to support them through the consultation period.”

Last summer, Sheffield City Council spent £3.4m buying the building and leasing it back to the company on much cheaper terms. It also offered to pay for a revamp of the five-storey building.

A John Lewis spokeswoman said: “We appreciate that this news comes closely after we signed a new lease in August 2020.

“We had believed that through investment in the shop, we could have played a key role in the Heart of the City regeneration.

“However, the effects of the pandemic, including three successive lockdowns and the acceleration of the switch to online shopping, has meant the impact on the store’s future viability is too great.”

The eight shops identified for closure include four ‘At Home’ shops in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells and four department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.

The spokeswoman added: “All of these shops were financially challenged prior to the pandemic. Given the significant shift to online shopping in recent years - and our belief that this trend will not materially reverse - we do not think the performance of these stores can be substantially improved."

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.