I contacted John Lewis Chief Executive Sharon White immediately after last week’s announcement of their plan to close their Sheffield store – highlighting its impact on the city, their customers and their staff. I then arranged for local MPs to join me in meeting with Sharon White and Executive Director Pippa Wicks.
Clive Betts, Olivia Blake and Miriam Cates joined me last night in the meeting in which we pressed the views of constituents, including JLP staff, who have contacted us individually – as well as over 20 thousand people who have signed a petition against the closure.
Although the pandemic has been a factor in the crisis in the retail sector, I didn’t feel we got satisfactory answers to our questions on what has changed in the seven months since their management signed a long-term deal with the Council committing to stay in Sheffield.
We were also unconvinced by the consideration given to post-Covid changes which would boost John Lewis trade – including potential demand as shops reopen, the planned expansion of city centre living and the new retail quarter.
We were advised that the proposals are subject to consultation involving all JLP staff, or partners, over the next three months. If this is taken seriously, I hope to see this damaging decision reconsidered.