MP ‘unconvinced’ of case for closing Sheffield store after meeting John Lewis bosses

A Sheffield MP was ‘unconvinced’ of the case to close John Lewis in Sheffield after meeting top bosses.

By David Walsh
Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:05 pm

Paul Blomfield said he didn’t feel there was a good explanation for the ‘flawed decision’ and he hoped consultation with staff ahead of any final closure was a ‘meaningful process’.

He met John Lewis chief executive Sharon White and executive director Pippa Wicks to discuss the bombshell plan not to reopen the Barker’s Pool store after lockdown. Some 299 jobs are at risk.

The company insists it is a ‘proposal’ which staff can ‘challenge and scrutinise’.

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John Lews in Sheffield City Centre is set to close. Picture: Chris Etchells

Mr Blomfield was joined by three other Sheffield MPs: Clive Betts, Olivia Blake and Miriam Cates.

Afterwards he said: “We made the case against closure, reflecting the views of the many constituents who have contacted us and the 22,000 people who have signed the online petition, and were unconvinced by the reasons for the proposed closure.

“Obviously retail is going through a major transformation, but we didn’t feel there was a good explanation of what had changed in the seven months since John Lewis had confidently signed their long-term deal with the Council committing to stay open in Sheffield.

“We also raised the concerns of the many staff who have been in touch with us. John Lewis make a lot of their partnership model, but those who face losing their job feel it hasn’t counted for much in this decision.”

“We were assured that the decision was subject to consultation with all their staff, or ‘partners’ as they are described, through May and June.

“If that is a meaningful process, we hope there will be an opportunity to reconsider what we feel is a flawed decision.”

As well as consulting with staff, John Lewis says discussions with Sheffield City Council are ‘ongoing’.

Over the weekend, executive director Pippa Wikcs was quoted as saying Sheffield could be home to one of 20 planned ‘smaller format’ stores and they were having ‘really constructive conversations with Sheffield’.

More than 22,000 people have signed a petition opposing the proposal.

Last year, Sheffield City Council bought the company out of its long term lease on the building for £3m.

John Lewis has been contacted for comment.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.