TALKS are taking place between the operators of Vangarde Shopping Park and John Lewis to 'explore options' to save the store.

City of York Council leaders have also made a direct appeal to the chair of the John Lewis Partnership to reconsider plans to shut its York store and save the 209 jobs at risk.

The news follows the Partnership's announcement on Wednesday that it was reshaping its store estate in response to changing shopping habits, after it recorded a £517m loss for 2020.

The York store only opened in April 2014.

A petition has been launched, calling on John Lewis to work with York council, the government and landlord, to find a way to save the store.

A consultation with the 209 affected York Partners [staff] about the proposals has started.  

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member economy and strategic planning, has written to Dame Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership, as well as the Chancellor, urging a long-term approach to supporting retail businesses.

Following the John Lewis announcement, along with other retail brands and some smaller traders closing for good, Cllr Waller is calling for the ongoing business rates review to deliver real reform to support retail businesses across the city.

This would include reforms that would reflect local economic realities, simplify the system, incentivise local growth and level the playing field between bricks and mortar and online businesses.


He said: “I have had an initial conversation with John Lewis Partnership representatives and have been made aware that active discussions are ongoing between Vangarde and John Lewis to explore options to retain the store, which I hope will be given the opportunity to achieve a positive outcome.

"I have also written to the Chair of the John Lewis Partnership to urge the company to reconsider the plans and support the more than 200 local jobs at risk.

“It’s great to see residents rally around the staff that would be impacted if the closure plans were to go ahead. Hopefully the petition will go some way to show John Lewis the strength of feeling in the city.

“In the light of the John Lewis announcement, along with other retail brands as well as some smaller traders considering closing their doors for good, I have written to the Chancellor to urge a long term approach to supporting retail businesses after the temporary support schemes end later in summer.

“The key to ensuring that our retailers are supported is a wholesale re-think of the business rates system, support for businesses to improve digital and the abolition of barriers to entry into the retail market for new businesses.

“Whilst we continue to work with partners to support our local traders, it’s clear that major changes in retail habits are bringing about the need for Government to take a more proactive and long term approach to supporting the sector and our high streets.”

Cllr Andrew Waller's letter to Dame Sharon White, Chair of the John Lewis Partnership in full:

Dear Dame White

I am writing in regards to the recent announcement that The John Lewis Partnership will not be reopening its store at the Vangarde Shopping Park in York, putting 209 local jobs at risk.

Whilst I fully appreciate the challenges yours and many other major brands have had to face over the last year alongside the ongoing trend towards online retail, I would urge you to reconsider this major decision which will have considerable impact on the local retail sector.

John Lewis has been a key anchor of the Vangarde Retail Park and I appreciate that there active discussions are ongoing between Vangarde and John Lewis Partnership to explore options to retain the store, which I hope will be given the opportunity to achieve a positive outcome.

As you will be aware, with the new Community Stadium and the many leisure offerings in the complex soon expecting to welcome many thousands of visitors to the retail park each week, the John Lewis Vangarde branch will have an incredible pool of potential custom to add to their already loyal shopper base. York has a promising future as a home to a John Lewis store.

Your local customers are ready to provide the revenue you need to retain the more than 200 staff, whose livelihoods are at risk. I would urge you to proactively communicate with your staff and offer them the support and retaining opportunities that would assist in what will be a very uncertain and worrying time.

In my capacity as Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning at the City of York Council, I would like to offer my full assistance, where possible, in helping ensure John Lewis retains the local job opportunities as well as the excellent retail offer in our city.

I hope you give this issue urgent attention and I look forward to receiving your reply.