Another month of talks before final decision made on Sheffield's John Lewis store
Staff at Sheffield’s John Lewis store will have another month of consultation before a final decision is made on the store’s closure, it has been confirmed.
The store – formerly Cole Brothers and loved by generations of Sheffielders – was earmarked for closure more than two months ago at the end of March, sparking city-wide mourning and concerns for what could replace the historic retailer.
At the time it was said that a final decision, which would affect the future of 299 staff or ‘partners’ would be made in June.But after the Telegraph approached John Lewis for an update, a spokesman said: “Group consultation for our Sheffield Partners won't end until at least the end of June - if not beyond that.”
Shoppers in Sheffield have pressed home the importance of the John Lewis store to the city centre, both by signing a petition calling for a U-turn and by contacting the retailer’s chiefs.
Peter Wragg, who is originally from Sheffield, wrote in to question why the store closure had been proposed before the level of returning shoppers was known post lockdown.
He added: "From its humble beginnings in 1847, are you really prepared to see such an established part of Sheffield history be wiped away from the retail landscape in the city where it has played and could continue to play such an important part of the community?”
A response to his letter from John Lewis, seen by the Telegraph, said: “Making announcements like this is always difficult and closing a shop is always a last resort.
"However, the effects of the pandemic, including three successive lockdowns and the acceleration of the switch to online shopping mean we can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store in some locations, which is resulting in the proposed closures announced last month.“Given the significant shift to online shopping in recent years - and our belief that this trend will not materially reverse - we do not think the performance of these eight stores can be substantially improved.”
Ideas for what could replace the Sheffield store have included art and performance venues, food and drink, and independent retailers. Send in your views to [email protected]