"Sheffield's time to shine": Sheffielders respond to possible John Lewis closure

Sheffield shoppers and retailers have responded to the news that John Lewis retailers are ‘not ruling out’ closing its city centre store.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 4:35 pm

Following the announcement that John Lewis were ‘not ruling out’ closing their city centre store after posting a £517m loss, Sheffield’s residents and business owners have had their say today.

Some believe that it would be a ‘real blow’ for the city centre, for staff, and for shoppers.

Others, meanwhile, believe that Sheffield’s commercial sector can bounce back and it may even ‘make way for smaller brands' and independents.

John Lewis has posted a £517m loss and refuses to rule out a city centre store closure.

Michelle Walton, owner of Bird’s Yard, an independent gift store on Chapel Walk, thinks the closure may give indies their ‘time to shine’ in the city centre.

Michelle told the Sheffield Telegraph: “Whilst I understand huge corporate stores are a pull for some, I would like to think that this is Sheffield’s time to shine, with their excellent independent designers and shops.

"Use the money to help make this happen so that customers travel far and wide for the unique, one off, exclusive ,exciting and designer owned shops, that you can’t get anywhere else.

"More and more people are moving towards this kind of shopping. And lockdown has brought about many people having time to put their time into their passion and finally following their dreams.

"Put the money back into the city you live in and see it thrive," says independent shop owner Michelle

"I’ve been going over 10 years and seen many people grow into their own shops and that makes me so proud.

"Put the money back into the city you live in and see it thrive. I’m sorry for any shop to have to close but I like that it potentially makes way for smaller brands to thrive. Bring it on.”

Tom Wolfenden, the CEO of Sheffield Technology Parks and city centre renovation project Leah’s Yard, agrees that the people of Sheffield and its commercial sector could ‘make it work’ despite the hole it would leave.

He said on Twitter: “Naturally it'd be a disappointing loss.

"But there is far more happening in Sheffield CC than John Lewis alone. We'd make it work.”

Kerri Hickman, a Sheffield resident, believes it would be a ‘real blow.’

She said: “It would be a real blow for the city centre, it's about the only store worth making a special journey into town for.”

Another Sheffield resident, Tracy Molloy, agreed, but also thought the solution could be to coalesce with company partners Waitrose.

She said: "I couldn't agree more. Sheffield is dead without John Lewis and Atkinson's.

“The thing is I feel it is a store you need to physically go to. Which is not good, given Covid.

"I love the store and the lovely staff. Could the not repurpose the ground floor to a Waitrose? Move maybe electrical to online and put the men's wear and china within other floors.”

A representative from MJB Commercial Property, a business based on Joiner Street in the city centre, went even further and said that the closure would be a ‘disaster’, calling on the council to make sure it does not happen.

They said: “This would be a disaster for the city centre which still needs all the help it can get.

"Time for the City Council to step up to the plate.”