Sheffield City Council have issued a statement following John Lewis’s announcement that they are planning to close their Sheffield City Centre store.
John Lewis announce Sheffield store closure
National retailer John Lewis today announced plans to close several stores, including its Sheffield City Centre anchor store in Barkers Pool.
The news came as a shock to many, considering the retailer committed to a new 20-year lease just last year.
That new lease followed a £3million+ investment to John Lewis by Sheffield City Council, who restructured the lease in John Lewis’ favour and agreed to refurbish the store to modern standards in order to commit the retailer to the site for the foreseeable future.
Around 300 jobs are at risk following the department store’s announcement.
Sheffield City Council hit back at John Lewis
A spokesperson for Sheffield City Council has stated that any change to the lease would need their agreement.
The spokesperson confirms that John Lewis has always been a part of the ongoing plans for redevelopment of the City Centre through projects like Heart of the City II.
In background information to an issued statement, the Council says: “If they want to bring that arrangement to an end there is a commercial arrangement to be agreed between the parties with a payment due from John Lewis.
“Whatever agreement is reached, the Council has the benefit of the building and the overall site in the centre of the city. There will be no financial loss to the Council.”
“The basis of the deal as reported in July 2020 was that the Council would pay a fair price for the proposed surrender of the then-lease, which had a term of 42 years remaining at a nominal ground rent. The payment to John Lewis was £3m. With that, the Council entered into a new 20-year modern lease for the building in return for a turnover based rent.
“John Lewis has always been a part of our plan for the regeneration of the city centre. If circumstances did change, any change to the lease would need our agreement. John Lewis may plan to close the store, but they are still tied to a lease with the Council.”Sheffield City Council spokesperson
Full statement from Sheffield City Council regarding the planned closure of John Lewis
Sheffield City Council have also offered support to employees affected by the John Lewis announcement.
The following statement has been issued by Sheffield City Council in response to the shock announcement:
“The planned closure of John Lewis is sad news. As Cole Brothers in 1847, then as John Lewis, it has been a retail landmark in our city for decades. We also need to think about those staff who, after an already challenging year, now face more uncertainty. We will work to provide as much support as we can to those who may be impacted.
“It’s no secret that high streets across the country have faced challenges over the past decade, and no one could have prepared for the impacts of the global pandemic. But Sheffield is a resilient city, and we already have in place ambitious plans for a city centre that competes on a global stage.
“Our Heart of the City plans will deliver between 5,500 and 7,000 jobs, create social spaces, homes, showcase our incredible culture, deliver restaurants, workspace, creative hubs – with a focus on socialising, alongside a fantastic retail offering that supports new and existing businesses.
“There is a lot to look forward to in Sheffield and we’re already seeing great progress, with West Bar’s leisure and office spaces, Cambridge Street Collective’s cultural and entertainment hub, multimillion-pound investment in the Moor and Fargate, and proposals for the 6,000ft Pounds Park, with a café, bar, terrace, water play area and urban orchard.
“We are already working towards building a world-class, sustainable, modern city centre that drives our economy and can continue to thrive long into the future.”Nalin Seneviratne, Director of City Centre Development at Sheffield City Council
Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region Mayor, has also issued a statement
A statement has also been issued by the office of Sheffield City Region Mayor, Dan Jarvis.
The mayor acknowledges the challenging times for High Streets and sympathises with those affected by John Lewis’s announcement.
Dan Jarvis promises to “ensure Sheffield and South Yorkshire comes through this”.
“Losing John Lewis in Sheffield deals another blow to retail workers who are among those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. My heart goes out to the workers and their families whose livelihoods are at risk.
“The store has been a cornerstone of the city’s retail offer for more than a century. I am working with John Lewis and Sheffield City Council to determine what this means for those whose jobs are now on the line and what can be done to support them.
“In challenging times, the people of Sheffield rally around each other and I know we will bounce back despite the challenges COVID throws at us.
“It’s clear high streets need to adapt, and that’s why we’re taking unprecedented action to create jobs, help people retrain and revitalise our town and city centres. We want them to thrive in the long term, by making them more vibrant, greener and attractive – and to be places where people can live and visit, as well a shop.
“This week, local leaders and I approved a £860m stimulus in South Yorkshire’s economy to start our recovery and renewal from COVID. This is a game changing investment in our region’s economy, which will very significantly benefit Sheffield. This includes £300m to transform our places and high streets.
“I’m determined to ensure Sheffield and South Yorkshire comes through this.”Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region Mayor
John Lewis’s history in Sheffield
John Lewis have been a fixture in Sheffield for over 70 years.
Initially they bought the Cole Brothers department store from Selfridges Provincial Stores group at the advent of World War II.
The Cole Brothers store was originally located on Fargate, a location still colloquially known as ‘Coles Corner’.
in 1963 Cole Brothers moved to a purpose-built block at Barkers Pool, where it has remained ever since. However, in 2002 owners decided to rebrand the store to the overall partnership name of ‘John Lewis’.
Cole Brothers’ signage from the Barkers Pool store can be found today in Weston Park museum.
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