Sheffield woman's campaign for boycott of Waitrose and John Lewis to show "anger" at city store closure

A Sheffield woman is calling for a boycott of John Lewis and Waitrose online after the company said they would invest millions into a flagship London store, while consulting on the closure of the Barker’s Pool shop.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 11:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 1:59 pm

The new petition calls for local people to boycott both John Lewis and Waitrose’ online stores to ‘show irritation’ at the company’s decision to close the historic Sheffield city centre shop – and is the latest twist in the long-running saga.

A final consultation on Sheffield’s John Lewis closure will take place in June, with 299 jobs at risk.

However, as reported by the Sheffield Telegraph last week, the company is starting a multi-million pound refit at one of its London stores, including the installation of a rooftop terrace garden.

John Lews in Sheffield City Centre is set to close. Picture: Chris Etchells

Evelyn Risner, from Nether Green, said: “I saw that they were investing in their London stores, and specifically their roof garden, and I just thought this doesn’t seem right, to do that and to close something such as Sheffield’s John Lewis which has been integral to the city centre for years.”

Just two weeks ago it was also confirmed that Waitrose, in its partnership with John Lewis, has applied to Sheffield Council for a planning permission to erect a rooftop refrigeration plant and develop delivery facilities at its store on Ecclesall Road.

Many people objected due to environmental concerns and others said it would be the ‘click and deliver replacement’ for the city centre John Lewis store.

Evelyn runs a small business in Sheffield, and says that John Lewis bosses let their city centre building become ‘tired’, and that the petition is the only way she could show her ‘anger’ towards the company.

Moving messages left on the doors of John Lewis in Sheffield from shoppers

"They just weren’t creative, they ran the place down,” she said.

“I think it got very empty of customers towards the end, because they were there in body but not in mind. It just seemed quite tired and run down, and I thought they could have put more energy, given how crucial it is in Sheffield, I bet they lost a lot of custom by leaving it so tired.

"I just thought that (the petition) was a way of showing John Lewis that we were angry, I couldn’t think of any other way to show irritation. No one seems to have has held them to account.”

Despite no official statement on its closure, the store decided not to reopen on April 12, when non-essential shops were permitted to reopen for the first time since last year.

Evelyn Risner

Moving messages from shoppers and staff have been left on the building’s main entrance.

There have also been many ideas shared for the future of the site, by Sheffielders, in the last few weeks as debate continues over how the closure will affect the city centre attempting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Telegraph readers have suggested that the important building could house a food hall or be used as a cultural centre.

Exciting ideals and visuals that showed how it could become “Sheffield’s Covent Garden” and have multiple uses under one roof, from Tom Hunt and Adam Park, also proved popular and were a catalyst for city-wide conversation on the issue.

Visit Change.org to sign Evelyn’s petition.