John Lewis & Partners has confirmed that it will permanently close eight of its shops, including two of its full-size department stores.

John Lewis will shutter its two travel hub shops at Heathrow airport and St Pancras International station; four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth; and two of its full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.

The Birmingham department store in Grand Central station was opened less than five years ago.

Approximately 1,300 partners have entered consultation as a result of the closures. The retailer says “every effort” will be made to redeploy staff where possible, either through role transfers to Waitrose branches or to the partnership’s online operations.

John Lewis will provide a retraining fund for affected staff and all partners will have access to a three-month support programme to help with CV writing and interview skills.

John Lewis has said the eight stores that are closing were “already financially challenged and the pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online”. 

The retailer’s nine remaining shuttered branches including in Oxford and Westfield London will reopen on July 30. John Lewis will now have a 42-strong store estate.

John Lewis Partnership chair Sharon White said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners. However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop. Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business.

“There are many reasons to be optimistic about the partnership’s future. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands and we have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic by responding to the new needs of customers. We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.”

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