John Lewis director says ‘we’re sorry’ to leave Peterborough

A senior executive at department store chain John Lewis has said ‘we’re sorry’ as the retailer prepares to close its Peterborough store.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 5:05 am
John Lewis Executive Director, Pippa Wicks.

In a message to the people of Peterborough, Pippa Wicks, Partner and Executive Director at John Lewis, reveals how bosses had hoped a £21 million refurbishment of its Queensgate store two years ago would revive its fortunes.

But the pandemic and enforced closures effectively condensed 10 years worth of change as shoppers moved online into a single year.

It culminated in the retailer’s announcement on Wednesday that John Lewis in Queensgate would not reopen after the temporary lockdown closure of non essential retail ends on April 12.

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The decision puts at risk 318 jobs with John Lewis staff now in consultation with managers over the closure.

John Lewis says that through the consultation its Partners ‘have the opportunity to challenge and scrutinise the reasoning and financial case in order to test this and to help everyone understand the rationale for the closure’.

Ms Wicks says the retailer has also promised to create a £1 million Community Investment Fund to support local projects when it store shuts.

The closure of the John Lewis store will bring the department store chain’s presence in Peterborough to an end after 39 years. The store opened at the same time as the Queensgate centre.

Writing to www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk, Pippa Wicks stated:

“We have loved being at the heart of the community in Peterborough, and our major refurbishment of the shop was completed just over a year ago.

“So we know that it may have come as a surprise that we have proposed to close the store.

“While our Peterborough store was financially challenged prior to the pandemic, we believed our continued investment would see it play a key role in the future of Queensgate.

“Unfortunately, the acceleration of online shopping and prolonged periods of closure during the pandemic have changed the way people are shopping and we’ve seen a decade’s worth of change in just one year.

“We therefore need to rebalance our estate, to respond to how our customers want to shop, in store and online.

“Sadly, we believe that means that some areas can no longer sustain a large John Lewis store and Peterborough is one of those cities.

“We have been forced to make this proposal with the future of the Partnership in mind.

“It is no way a reflection of the outstanding work of our Partners in Peterborough; with whom we will shortly enter into consultation about the proposed closure.

“If redundancies are confirmed, we will be looking to redeploy as many Partners as possible in the Partnership and have put together a package of support.

It has been a huge privilege to serve the people of Peterborough and to work alongside such brilliant Partners over the years.

“That’s why we will provide a £1 million Community Investment Fund, to support local projects, if the store closes.

She added: “The Partnership has survived world wars and bombings, economic crashes and crises.

“We shall be very sorry if we have to leave Peterborough, but we are determined to come through COVID-19 and emerge stronger.

“If we do close our doors at John Lewis Peterborough, we do hope that you would continue to shop with us at Waitrose Mayors Walk.”

She said: “Customers are asking for more convenient access to John Lewis so we’re improving our next day Click & Collect service with Waitrose and offering more local collection points through third parties.

“John Lewis home delivery is still available to you and we offer named or next day delivery, standard five-day delivery and next day Click & Collect.

“Within driving distance, you can collect your John Lewis purchases from a number of Waitrose and Co-op collection points.”

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