MOVES to close John Lewis York highlights the need to ensure the city's economy is not over reliant on retail and tourism, says a leading figure.

The John Lewis Partnership is consulting with the 209 staff at its Vangarde Shopping Park store - one of eight to be closed after the Partnership recorded a £517m loss for 2020.

Andrew Digwood, president of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said the news was a blow to staff and York.

He said the bricks and mortar retail sector had faced huge challenges from online shopping trends, accentuated by the pandemic.

But he stressed York’s retail offer remained strong and diverse, with household names at out-of-town and centre sites, leisure facilities near the Community Stadium and a wealth of independent retailers.

Along with York's heritage and cultural assets, the city ought to remain an attractive place in which to live and visit, he said.

However, he added: "This does underline the importance of ensuring that our city’s economy is well balanced and isn’t over reliant on sectors like retail and tourism to generate jobs and prosperity.

"We need to seize every opportunity to think boldly and creatively about how we can do that and provide space to nurture other business sectors which have found success in York.”

Andrew highlighted the potential in York to create more better-paid, higher productivity opportunities for people in sectors like tech (digital media and rail tech being two particular areas of strength), specialist engineering and bioscience - areas where we already have some great things going on in York that sometimes pass a bit below the radar.

"To support those sectors to grow and attract suitable inward investment to the city, we need to be prepared to be bold about embracing the right development opportunities and to celebrate and build on our heritage, not be constrained by it."