BOSSES at John Lewis have today confirmed the future of its Reading store.

The John Lewis Partnership has announced that it is not planning to reopen eight of its 42 John Lewis shops from lockdown, as it rebalances its store estate to reflect how customers want to shop.

The Partnership also confirmed plans to transfer the running of its Waitrose Distribution Centre in Leyland to XPO Logistics.

The eight shops identified for closure include four ‘At Home’ shops in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells and four department stores in Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.

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John Lewis said its remaining 34 John Lewis shops, including its Reading shop on Broad Street, will reopen from April 12 subject to government guidance.

A spokesperson for the company said: "We will enter into consultation with the 1,465 affected Partners about our proposals.

"Should we proceed, we will make every effort to find alternative roles in the Partnership for as many Partners as possible.

"At the Partnership’s full year results earlier this month, we said that we will reshape our business in response to how our customers increasingly want to shop in-store and online.

"This follows substantial research to identify and cater for new customer shopping habits in different parts of the country.

"As part of this, we can unfortunately no longer profitably sustain a large John Lewis store in some locations where we do not have enough customers, which is resulting in the proposed closures. The eight shops were financially challenged prior to the pandemic."

They added: "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.

"We expect 60% to 70% of John Lewis sales to be made online in the future. Nearly 50% of our customers now use a combination of both store and online when making a purchase."

If redundancies are confirmed in the eight shops, the company explained every effort will be made to find affected Partners new roles for those who wish to remain within the Partnership.

John Lewis will also provide a £1m Community Investment Fund, to support local projects and to be shared among the eight local areas where it proposes to close shops.

Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Today's announcement is incredibly sad news for our affected Partners, for our customers and for the communities we’ve served over many years.

“The high street is going through its biggest change for a generation and we are changing with it. Customers will still be able to get the trusted service that we are known for - however and wherever they want to shop.”

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Pippa Wicks, Executive Director for John Lewis, said: “Closing stores is the toughest thing we do as a Partnership because we all own our business. If the closures are confirmed, every effort will be made to find new roles for Partners and for us to continue to serve our customers by providing access to John Lewis in different ways.

“Alongside a growing online business and the expansion of next day Click & Collect, we will invest in our in-store services and experiences, as well as new, smaller neighbourhood formats and the introduction of John Lewis ranges in more Waitrose shops.”

John Lewis continues to trade as normal online and it will reopen the remaining stores in line with government guidelines.