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John Lewis plans hundreds of mini-stores in Waitrose

Matthew Field
·2-min read
Dame Sharon White, John Lewis chairman
Dame Sharon White, John Lewis chairman

John Lewis Partnership is planning to overhaul its presence on the high street by opening hundreds of mini-stores in Waitrose supermarkets.

The retailer, which is expected to close eight more department stores this year, is hoping to offset concerns about the decline of the high street by adding outlets to its Waitrose shops.

The mutual has already opened five such "mini-John Lewis" stores under chair Dame Sharon White, who has the task of transforming the high street stalwart for the digital age, according to The Sunday Times.

John Lewis first announced a concept store based in its Waitrose food stores in 2019. At the time, it said it could roll the new shops out to up to 50 Waitrose shops. A John Lewis spokesperson confirmed it was now planning more mini stores.

At John Lewis's annual results on March 11, it is expected to show that Covid-19 has caused a collapse in pre-tax profits and partners will miss out on their bonus for the first time since 1953.

John Lewis, founded in 1864, is Britain's only historic department store chain to have avoided going bust. Debenhams collapsed in December putting 12,000 jobs at risk and began shutting down its outlets. Other stalwarts such as Beales collapsed before the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms White is hoping John Lewis can shift its focus to online sales and expects two thirds of its £4.8bn in annual sales to be digital by 2024.

But the pandemic has led to tumbling footfall while department stores and malls have closed or remained quiet as people are forced to stay at home.

The Sunday Times reported Ms White hopes most of Waitrose's 331 sites to include a mini John Lewis in the next 18 months.