John Lewis & Partners will close historic department store Knight & Lee in Southsea in July, putting 127 jobs at risk.
At 35,000 sq ft, it is the smallest full line shop in the retailer’s 51-strong estate. All staff are at risk of redundancy but John Lewis said it is looking to find them roles in John Lewis and Waitrose shops in the surrounding area.
The decision to shut Knight & Lee has been driven by several site-specific factors, including the physical condition of the property and the need for a significant investment to modernise it.
The retailer said a ”unique commercial opportunity” presented itself at the end of 2018 to sell the freehold of the building and close Knight & Lee.
John Lewis is not planning other closures at this time.
Dino Rocos, John Lewis & Partners operations director, said: “We have not taken this decision lightly and we considered every implication for our partners, customers and the community. However, a unique combination of factors, including the significant investment required and the opportunity to sell the property freehold, makes this the right decision for the financial sustainability of our business.
“We also want to bring the very best of what John Lewis & Partners has to offer to all of our customers and, in Southsea, we believe we can better serve them through our Southampton and Chichester shops, and online with an improved click & collect offer at Waitrose & Partners Southsea.
“Our team at Knight & Lee are a loyal and long-serving team of partners. We are doing everything we can to offer them roles elsewhere in our business and finding suitable roles for as many partners as possible is an absolute priority. Nevertheless, there will unfortunately be some redundancies and we will work hard to support all the partners affected. We want to thank our partners and Knight & Lee customers for their loyalty over the years.”
The John Lewis Partnership also announced today that it will restructure its maintenance function to a single maintenance provider CBRE, to improve service levels across its John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners shops, distribution network and head offices.