John Lewis Sheffield: 'Hearts are broken' among ex-staff missing hectic Christmas in closed-down store
The run-up to Christmas just wasn’t the same this year for Sheffield personal shopper Peter Kane, who worked at John Lewis.
Peter, aged 40, who lives in S6, was one of 299 staff who lost their jobs when the Barkers Pool store, which is still known by many as Cole Brothers, closed in June. He took redundancy and now works as a personal shopper, based at Meadowhall.
He said: “When I finished with John Lewis, I still had my own Instagram account, Peter the Personal Stylist, so I added a link to contact me in the Instagram bio. There’s something for everyone.
"I know that some people are on a budget. We can have a bit of fun with the service I offer.”
He said that a lot of the other John Lewis partners – the profit-sharing firm’s name for staff – have also set up their own businesses now.
Peter said: “This time last year we were all gearing up for a busy Christmas. It was exciting to see the shop and the operations up on the third floor. It was very much like a family atmosphere. Everyone put their all into it.
“On Christmas Eve, there was always mince pies and mulled wine or Prosecco as we left. A lot of hearts are broken that we’re not doing that this year. Sheffield and Cole Brothers was such a nice place – even a lot of the clients got quite emotional. That was a place where at Christmas was their meeting place.
"I loved getting off that tram every day and seeing that Sixties building”
“A lot of families were created from Cole Brothers. It’s that sense a lot of Sheffield will miss. It wasn’t necessarily about the brand, it was about the people working within Cole Brothers, as people still like to call it. It’s about what the Sheffield magic was. You can’t clone that at all.”
Leeds-born Peter worked at the store for 10 years. He studied fashion in London and his jobs in the capital included the world-famous stage costume makers Angels, meeting many celebrities.
He said: "I was putting down roots in Sheffield and got that job at John Lewis. I felt I really made a family there. I thought I was going to be part of the furniture. I really felt this was home.
“I loved getting off that tram every day and seeing that Sixties building.”
What he remembers most of all is the fun that he had, working with colleague Kim Bennett. “Me and her just clicked. We have the same sense of humour. We’ve just been in stitches with laughter.”
He added: “I think because it’s our first Christmas without being in the store it’s going to be very strange. Christmas always a very busy, very energised time. It’s going to be a very different experience not having that shop and not to have those times where it’s a bit hectic but we’re all together.”
Peter, who is based at the Style Suite at Meadowhall, offers a one-hour consultation in person or online for £80. His other services range from £150 to £250 and include personal shopping sessions for one or two people, creating digital style mood boards, plus specialist colour analysis.
Find details of his services at www.meadowhall.co.uk/news/personal-stylist