John Lewis confirms it WILL reopen Reading store but closes Newbury store

DEPARTMENT store John Lewis has confirmed the Reading branch will be reopening this month – but a Newbury store will remain permanently closed.

The announcement comes as the final wave of shop reopenings is confirmed.

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Reading’s town centre store – along with others in Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Sheffield and White City Westfield – will reopen doors on July 30.

John Lewis confirmed today (July 9) that it will not reopen eight stores, including the At Home branch in Parkway shopping centre, Newbury, in order to secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers’ shopping needs.

Reading Chronicle:

Newbury John Lewis store

The others identified for closure include two of the smallest in the estate – travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, three other At Home shops in Croydon, Swindon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.

Before the virus struck, 40 percent of John Lewis sales were online – this could now be closer to 60 to 70 percent of total sales this year and next.

Approximately 1,300 partners across the eight shops will now enter into consultation.

The company said if redundancies are confirmed, “every effort” would be made to find new roles where possible for partners who wish to remain within the partnership.

Opportunities could include transferring to local Waitrose shops or working for and as they continue to grow.

The Partnership has also made a commitment to provide support through a unique retraining fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any partner with two years’ service or more.

All partners would be given access to a three month support programme with an outplacement specialist to help with CV writing and interview skills.

In addition to statutory redundancy payments, partners who have worked with the business for more than a year would be entitled to partnership redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age.

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Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.

John Lewis has said that prior to the pandemic, the eight shops identified were already financially challenged and lockdown has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online.

Reading Chronicle:

John Lewis, Reading

Sharon White, chairwoman of the John Lewis Partnership 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.”

It is intended that a £1 million Community Investment Fund will be provided and shared between the communities to support local projects.

Reading Chronicle