Coronavirus: John Lewis to close temporarily in Sheffield because of pandemic crisis

John Lewis Partnership has taken the "difficult decision" to temporarily close all 50 John Lewis shops – including its department store in Sheffield – at close of business on Monday as a result of the impact of coronavirus, the retailer has announced.

Saturday, 21st March 2020, 3:55 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st March 2020, 5:28 pm

The retailer said Johnlewis.com will continue to operate as will Waitrose shops, such as the supermarket on Ecclesall Road, and waitrose.com.

Announcing the move - the first time in the 155-year history of the business that it will not open its shop doors for customers - chairman Sharon White said: "The welfare of our customers, communities and partners is always our absolute priority.

"While it is with a heavy heart that we temporarily close our John Lewis shops, our partners will, where possible, be taking on important roles in supporting their fellow partners, providing critical services in Waitrose shops and ensuring our customers can get what they need through johnlewis.com, which is seeing extremely strong demand.

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"The partnership has traded for over 155 years, during which time we have faced many difficult periods, including two world wars and the 2008 financial crisis.

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"On every occasion, thanks to our customers and partners, and the long-standing relationships with our suppliers and stakeholders, we have emerged stronger. We all need to continue to support each other and our strength and resilience will be tested. But they will not be broken."

The retailer said over 2,000 partners are already working in Waitrose shops to assist with the unprecedented demand for grocery and other essential goods and "wherever possible" partners will be redeployed to provide additional support to Waitrose and johnlewis.com.

John Lewis in Barker's Pool, Sheffield.

Sheffield’s John Lewis store has traded in Barker’s Pool since the 1960s. It was formerly called Cole Brothers, which previously had premises on the corner of Fargate and Church Street, before a rebrand in 2002.

Nationally, John Lewis said a surge in demand in its Waitrose shops and a reduction in footfall at its John Lewis stores made predicting its full year cash flow and profits "difficult".

"The Government's decision to introduce a business rates holiday will save the partnership around £160 million over the next 12 months, and in addition, VAT and wages support is welcomed," the retailer said.

The company said it had about £1.5 billion of liquidity, consisting of £950 million cash and £500 million of undrawn committed credit facilities.

The retailer said its plans to spend more than £500 million this year will now be "scaled back significantly", while it will also reduce the supply of general merchandise to reflect the impact of the shop closures.

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