Following the havoc caused by COVID-19, the John Lewis Partnership has shocked the world with a difficult decision—permanently closing down eight stores, where 1,300 workers are now at risk of losing employment.
“Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and [employees],” Sharon White shares, the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. “Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many [employees] as possible within our business.”
Unfortunately, John Lewis has decided to close down their eight stores due to financial constraints. These have been on the verge of collapse prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and the current times have only accelerated the devastation. With the rise of the eCommerce industry, John Lewis expects up to 70% of its sales to come from online platforms, which has moved them to the decision of shifting their efforts online.
John Lewis, along with owned-brand Waitrose, has now invested heavily on eCommerce. They have shifted their budgets on supporting their online capacity, which began in the early months of Covid-19. To comply with consumer demands, the company eyes on opening a third online centre in Greenford, U.K., along with an expansive delivery service.
The eight shops in question
Among the eight shops identified by John Lewis are the two large-format department stores, which can be found in Watford and Birmingham. The company is also slating four at-home stores for closures, such as specialist homeware stores. These are about 40,000 to 60,000 square feet. Two small travel hubs also join the foyer, both of which measure under 4,000 square feet.
What do all these mean for their workers?
Given the current state of the economy, John Lewis assures the public that they are exhausting every means to find new roles for their workers. This includes finding places for them at their websites as the platforms expand, as well as positions at local Waitrose shops.
Moreover, the company has also allocated budgets for retraining courses for its workers, valued at £ 3,000. This is only open for workers with two years of service or more, however. The future of other workers remains uncertain.
Covid-19 continues to plough across the country
The United Kingdom alone mourns the loss of sales totalling to an approximate of £17.28 billion, all as a result of the coronavirus fear, quarantine measures, and social distancing rules. According to the Centre for Retail Research, a devastating number of 20,622 stores are forecasted to close this year, which will result in 235,704 people losing their jobs.
British business owners continue to navigate through such trying times, trying to tie the ends of their businesses together John Lewis is not the first and last company to have been forced to make cuts, as department stores such as Harrods plan to cut up to 14% of its workers. Oasis and Warehouse Debenhams, on the other hand, have now lost the reign and have fallen into administration.
So long as the cure remains scarce and vaccines remain on the drawing board, the effects of Covid-19 will continue to affect millions. Retailers from all over the world continue to scramble for survival, but unless the virus can be stopped, many will be well on their way to closures.
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