John Lewis hints that Sheffield could get smaller format post-closure
Over 15,0000 people have signed a petition to keep the John Lewis store in Sheffield open, and while that's unlikely to change the company’s mind, there have been hints that the brand might not disappear from Sheffield altogether.
The FT reported that John Lewis executive board member Pippa Wicks has suggested Sheffield could see the arrival of a smaller-format John Lewis store in the future.
The company is currently planning to shut the full-sized John Lewis branch in the city as part of its latest wave of store closures. It's a major blow for the city centre and comes after there had been plans for Sheffield city council to buy the building and rent it back to the company.
Wicks, who took up her post overseeing the John Lewis chain last year, told The FT that Sheffield was a potential location for one of “up to 20” smaller format stores. While that isn't exactly a cast iron guarantee, she did say that the company is in “really constructive conversations” with the city and that it has “good customers there and potential sites that might be appropriate”.
But for now, it remains uncertain what will happen to the current site that John Lewis occupies. A large number of city centre department stores are falling vacant at present due to closures among continuing chains and the failure of the Debenhams chain. These can be difficult to rent out to a single tenant and what has happened so far is that they’ve been split into smaller units, converted to mixed use with some department stores including office space, homes or leisure activities, or sat vacant for extended periods.
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