TALKS about the future of John Lewis York have failed to save the store as the department chain confirms today that it will remain permanently closed.

The decision follows consultation with York Partners - the 209 members of staff employed at the store which opened at Vangarde Shopping Park in 2014.

A spokesman told The Press: "It is with regret that we confirm that the shop will remain permanently closed.

"We will now meet with each Partner individually to discuss how best we can support them as well as looking at redeployment opportunities should they wish."

York Press:

The chain announced in March that it was rebalancing its estate after recording a £517 million loss in 2020 and seeing a major online shift in customers’ shopping habits.

A petition set up by York resident Andy Simpson, below, to try and save John Lewis York and the 209 jobs at risk attracted 1,100 signatories within just 24 hours. It has since topped 5,500 signatures.

The petition urged 'John Lewis & Partners, City of York Council, the Government and landlord to swiftly work together and explore an alternative to permanent closure'. 

York Press:

Kylie Gilson, head of branch for John Lewis York, said: “I’m really proud of the dedication, passion and professionalism my team of Partners have shown not only in the extraordinary circumstances retailers have faced over the last year, but especially since the proposal to close came forward earlier this year.

"I will miss them all, as well as our customers, who I am equally grateful to for their loyalty and custom over the past seven years. I am sorry we won’t now have the opportunity to say goodbye, but we will take away some very happy memories.”

As reported at the time of the announcement in March, John Lewis said it would support any employees who could not remain with the Partnership in a number of ways.

These include:

• They will have access to a dedicated Retraining Fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any Partner with two years’ service or more.

• All Partners will have the option of a three month support programme with an outplacement specialist to help with CV writing and interview skills.

• In addition to statutory redundancy payments, Partners who have worked with the business for more than a year would be entitled to Partnership redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age.

• Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.

The closure is designed to help cut the chain's significant property costs. 

It has 42 department stores and the upmarket Waitrose supermarket chain but recorded a £517m loss for 2020 and confirmed earlier this year that staff would not receive a bonus for the first time in 67 years.

John Lewis has been a big draw to the Vangarde Shopping Park, on the outskirts of the city, alongside the large Marks & Spencers and Next stores, and its close proximity to the new Community Stadium.

The company said it had carried out extensive research to identify and cater for new customer shopping habits in different parts of the country.

As a result, the chain said it could 'no longer profitably sustain the John Lewis shop in York'.

A spokesman previously said: "The research means we will also invest in providing more access to John Lewis through improving our Click & Collect service, as well as trialling the introduction of John Lewis shopping areas in our Waitrose stores.

"All of these shops were financially challenged prior to the pandemic.

"Given the significant shift to online shopping in recent years - and our belief that this trend will not materially reverse - we do not think the performance of these stores can be substantially improved.

"We expect 60% to 70% of John Lewis sales to be made online in the future. Nearly 50% of our customers now use a combination of both store and online when making a purchase."  

Following the launch of the petition to save the York store, Pippa Wicks, partner and executive director of John Lewis, wrote: "Our ambition, and expectation, was that we would remain part of the communities for many years to come and continue to serve our customers there - something we have taken great pride in.

"I therefore share in the huge disappointment that the news has caused so many people. The strength of feeling from our customers and the communities we serve underlines what a difficult decision proposing to close in these locations has been."