All 50 John Lewis stores will temporarily close of the end of business today (Monday March 23) due to the impact of coronavirus. Johnlewis.com – which generates half the brand’s business – is ‘seeing extremely strong demand,’ confirms chairman Sharon White. She also said that John Lewis Partnership expects a rise in demand for some Home product lines as people continue to work from home.
Sharon stated: “The Partnership has traded for over 155 years, during which time we have faced many difficult periods, including two world wars and the 2008 financial crisis. On every occasion, thanks to our customers and Partners, and the long-standing relationships with our suppliers and stakeholders, we have emerged stronger. We all need to continue to support each other and our strength and resilience will be tested. But they will not be broken.”
The food halls within John Lewis Oxford Street and Waitrose shops that share premises with John Lewis space at several stores will remain open. John Lewis partners are being redeployed to provide additional support to busy Waitrose and johnlewis.com.
Sharon described the John Lewis Partnership as: “a diversified, resilient and strong business.” She said: “The Government’s decision to introduce a business rates holidaywill save the Partnership around £160m over the next 12 months, and in addition, VAT and wages support is welcomed.”
She concluded: “Our current scenario, which takes into account the temporary closure of our John Lewis department stores, and models a significant net cash outflow in the year, shows that we have sufficient liquidity. However, we are not complacent; the scale of the societal and business impact of coronavirus is like nothing we have seen in recent times.”
*The Partnership is working with Age UK, FareShare and the Trussell Trust, donating £75,000 initially to each charity, for immediate activity in response to the coronavirus outbreak. John Lewis is also donating items such as pillows to the NHS to help its workers have more comfortable breaks.
Top: John Lewis stores are closing temporarily today (Monday 23) – Oxford Street is pictured.