CITY leaders are focusing efforts on ensuring that as many of the 209 jobs lost by the closure of John Lewis York remain in the city.

The department chain which announced in March that it was proposing not to reopen the store at Vangarde Shopping Park when lockdown ended has now confirmed it will remain shut permanently.

The confirmation yesterday follows its consultation with employees at the store.

City of York Council sought meetings with the national retailer following the closure announcement in a bid to safeguard its presence in the city.

Cllr Andrew Waller told The Press: "Following the announcement that John Lewis was consulting on the future of their York store earlier in March, councillors engaged with the Partnership representatives to make the case to retain the local store and jobs in the city.

"Whilst the decision to close the store will come as disappointing news to all across the city, John Lewis is not immune to the impact of the pandemic and the backdrop of the changes in the retail sector, which has seen the company suffer significant losses.

“Our current focus remains on working with John Lewis to ensure the York store staff are supported during this difficult period and the brand presence and as many jobs are retained in the city, for example, through the Waitrose store as has happened in other parts of the country.

“We are also working with the Vangarde retail park to support the them as they look to attract other uses of the retail space at Monks Cross, recognising the opportunities that the space presents to the community and the city.

“We know that York has a lot to offer, and our amazing range of independent businesses are working hard to ensure that their customers can look forward to safe services at their next visit. In reopening the city our recovery plan has a key focus on supporting our local businesses to allow them to prosper whilst ensuring that we keep the public safe. We are working with city partners to explore how we can make the most of York’s considerable strengths to build back better and fairer, and accelerate our recovery.”

Reaction from Press readers to today's news includes: "Glad that John Lewis have made the right decision; closing loss-making and environmentally-unsustainable department stores and diverting their investments to 21st century profit-making technology and a more environmentally friendly way to do business, online trading."

"John Lewis were never going to turn back from their business decision. To remain open would be economically destructive to them."

"Too little choice and too overpriced. That's the be all and end all."

"So Vangarde are now left with a huge unit and probably no retailer to fill it. Maybe broken into smaller units or used as more dining space."