John Lewis is reportedly seeking discounts from landlords, as it seeks to cut further costs from across the business.
The retailer has told landlords in some areas that it will withhold 20% of service charges for this quarter, documents seen by the BBC indicate.
John Lewis said the charges, which are paid on top of rent and cover services such as heating and security, are too high and asked landlords to help cut costs. The proposed discounts would reduce charges for the final “golden” quarter of 2019.
In a statement, the retailer told the BBC that service charges in shopping centres had risen particularly steeply in recent years. It also criticised landlords for not doing enough work with the retailer to reduce these increases.
However, John Lewis is under contract to meet service charge obligations, and failing to do so could lead to conflicts with property owners.
This request comes following a week of significant change for the retailer, which announced that John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners will act as a single business. This will result in a third of senior management roles being axed.