09/07/2020 10:38 BST | Updated 09/07/2020 13:49 BST

John Lewis To Permanently Close Eight Stores, Putting 1,300 Jobs At Risk

Shops in Birmingham and Watford are among those shutting their doors for good.

John Lewis has announced it will permanently close eight of its shops, including two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford, putting a total of 1,300 workers at risk.

The company said the other closures will be four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, and two travel hub outlets at Heathrow and St Pancras.

It said the eight shops were already “financially challenged before the coronavirus pandemic, which has ramped up the shift towards online shopping, PA Media report.

The group estimated that between 60% and 70% of John Lewis sales are set to be made online this year and next, compared with 40% before the coronavirus crisis.

Back in April, John Lewis had already announced it was “highly unlikely” that all 50 of its stores would remain open once the coronavirus lockdown ended fully.

The store in Birmingham had only opened in 2015 as part of the city’s massive regeneration of Grand Central shopping centre above New Street station.

The John Lewis shop in Birmingham's Grand Central Station.

Birmingham mayor Andy Street said the closure “risks being a dreadful mistake” and said he “will be making the case for why the company should not give up this tremendous opportunity” in the city.

Sharon White, chairman 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.”