John Lewis considers closing more stores

John Lewis is considering more store closures as it tries to cut costs and adapt to the boom in online shopping.

In what would be another blow for the High Street, the BBC understands up to eight department stores may remain permanently closed.

That would be on top of the eight stores it shut last year, which included two small travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras.

That could leave it with 34 stores, down from its current total of 42.

John Lewis has declined to comment on the potential move, which was first reported by the Sunday Times.

Any closures would be another blow to the high street and town centres, which are already grappling with the fall-out from the collapse of Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire.

The rise in internet shopping, exacerbated by various lockdown measures amid coronavirus, has forced John Lewis to rethink how many stores it needs.

It already expects up to 70% of its sales will be online by 2025.

In July last year, John Lewis announced it was closing its stores in Birmingham, Croydon, Watford, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, as well as the smaller hubs at St Pancras and Heathrow, with the loss of 1,300 jobs.

In January, John Lewis said its Christmas trading had been better than anticipated and that it expected its full year profits to be ahead of its previous guidance of a small loss or a small profit.

Any announcement on further store closures could come next month, when the John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose, announces its annual results on 11 March.

The last set of results showed a half-year loss of £635m, and prompted it to cancel its annual staff bonus for the first time since 1953.

The shutting of more John Lewis stores would be another blow for the High Street, which has seen the closure of a number of so-called anchor brands – big names that attract shoppers and other shops to the area.

Topshop, part of Sir Philip Green’s failed Arcadia empire, and Debenhams have been among the high profile casualties of the shift of retailing online.

Earlier this month, online fashion retailer Asos bought Topshop and other Arcadia brands Topman and Miss Selfridge out of administration. And Boohoo, another fast-growing online retailer, bought Arcadia brands Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton.