Any hopes that the John Lewis store in York would reopen were extinguished this morning, when the group confirmed it was shut for good.
When the John Lewis Partnership announced in March that the Vangarde outlet was not reopening after Covid restrictions were eased, a fight began to save the store.
At the time the company said it would consult staff – known as partners – before finalising the plan.
But the consultation is now over, and the decision is unchanged. “Following consultation with our York partners, it is with regret that we confirm that the shop will remain permanently closed,” a John Lewis spokesperson said today.
“We will now meet with each partner individually to discuss how best we can support them as well as looking at redeployment opportunities should they wish.”
Kylie Gilson, head of branch for John Lewis York, said: “I’m really proud of the dedication, passion and professionalism my team of partners have shown not only in the extraordinary circumstances retailers have faced over the last year, but especially since the proposal to close came forward earlier this year.
“I will miss them all, as well as our customers, who I am equally grateful to for their loyalty and custom over the past seven years. I am sorry we won’t now have the opportunity to say goodbye, but we will take away some very happy memories.”
Thousands rallied round
The decision to close the store, seven years after it opened in its purpose-built home, shocked York.
Based on the spend in store, and future forecasts, the Vangarde store was not viable long-term, John Lewis said.
York Retail Association chair Phil Pinder called it a “ludicrous decision”, and a York shop worker described the announcement as “a kick to the stomach”.
A petition calling on John Lewis to reverse the plan, launched by Andy Simpson, gained more than 5,500 signatures.
But it was not to be. The company spokesperson said they would be supporting affected staff in a number of ways:
- a dedicated Retraining Fund will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for staff with two years’ service or more
- in addition to statutory redundancy payments, staff who have worked a year or more are entitled to ‘partnership redundancy pay’, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service
- those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.