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John Lewis to close more stores as pandemic wipes out profit

John Lewis recorded a £517m loss for the year ending in January

UK retailer John Lewis warned of further store closures after the retail giant posted a pandemic-induced loss as stores closed across the country.

John Lewis recorded a £517m loss for the year ending in January, compared to a profit of £146m the year before.

Previous reports have suggested up to eight stores could be closed in an effort to cut costs. Further store closures would be in addition to this figure.

While the retailer did not say how many stores could be impacted, it did confirm that a decision would be made by the end of March.

Chairman Sharon White told the BBC that the move to keep stores closed was “painful” but necessary due to a “decade of changes in shopping habits in one year”.

“There is no getting away from the fact that some areas can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store. Regrettably, we do not expect to reopen all our John Lewis shops at the end of lockdown, which will also have implications for our supply chain,” White added.

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, commented on the store closures:

“We’ve been asking the question “what’s the future for our hight streets” for over a decade.  Ever since Woolworths closed its doors in 2015 there have been rumblings of concern and calls for change,” Hewson said.

“The decision by John Lewis not to reopen some of its stores after lockdown ends isn’t surprising.  Six years ago, when I went to the long awaited opening of a John Lewis store in Leeds, partners were falling over themselves to tell me how this was a store for the future.  It was about experience; with restaurants, treatment rooms and advice on a good night’s sleep.  It was also an integral part of their dot com offer, with the backrooms operating as streamlined warehouses.”

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