John Lewis and Boots to cut 5,300 jobs and shut shops

John Lewis and Boots to cut 5,300 jobs and shut shops

John Lewis store

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Reuters

Two of the UK’s biggest High Street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, have announced 5,300 job cuts.

Boots has said 4,000 jobs will go, while John Lewis is shutting down eight stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

John Lewis said it had to “secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers’ shopping needs”.

Boots said it was consulting on plans to restructure its head office and store teams and close 48 Boots Opticians stores.

John Lewis department stores in Birmingham and Watford will not reopen as the coronavirus lockdown eases.

John Lewis At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth will also shut down, as will travel sites at Heathrow airport and London St Pancras.

The moves come amid warnings that new economic support plans unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday will not be enough to stop millions of workers losing their jobs.

Mr Sunak announced measures including a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for every furloughed employee retained to the end of January 2021.

John Lewis had warned in March it could close shops as a plunge in profits forced it to cut staff bonuses to their lowest level in almost 70 years.

It said the eight stores affected were already “financially challenged” even before the pandemic struck.

However, Covid-19 had caused customers to move more quickly towards online shopping and away from stores.

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Getty Images

John Lewis Partnership chairwoman Sharon White 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.”

Ms White said John Lewis would do everything it could to keep on as many people as possible.

The John Lewis Partnership is owned by its staff – known as partners – who usually receive a bonus each year.

This year, staff bonuses were set at 2%, the lowest since 1953 when it paid no bonus.

Profits at the partnership dived by 23% last year to £123m – the third year in a row that profits have fallen – as it continued to struggle with the slowdown in consumer spending.

Jobless rise

Despite the chancellor’s back-to-work bonus announced on Wednesday, millions of workers could still end up out of work, analysts and unions have warned.

Unions said job losses would “gather pace” while economists predicted “a rapid rise in unemployment”.

They warned that incentives to save jobs were not large enough to persuade bosses to keep workers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak himself has warned of “a significant impact on unemployment and on job losses”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Is unemployment going to rise, are people going to lose their jobs?’ Yes, and the scale of this is significant.

“We are entering one of the most severe recessions this country has ever seen. That is of course going to have a significant impact on unemployment and on job losses.”

He also told the BBC he was “sorry” for not helping “everyone in exactly the way they would have wanted”, adding he would not be able to protect “every single job”.

John Lewis is the latest in a long line of companies to have made cuts during the pandemic. Other lay-offs announced include:


Do you work in any of the John Lewis stores which are due to close? How will you be affected? Email: .

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist.



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