Kingston and Poole to be first John Lewis stores to reopen on 15 June
John Lewis has revealed its stores in Kingston, Surrey, and Poole, Dorset, will be the first in the department store’s portfolio to get the green light to reopen on 15 June.
Three days later, on Thursday 18 June, a further 11 John Lewis stores will open at Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn.
Prior to opening, each shop will have undergone a four-week reopening preparation programme, including counting stock, replenishment, preparation of systems, merchandising, deep cleaning, the introduction of social distancing measures, partner training and final pre-opening checks.
John Lewis temporarily closed its 50 department stores on 23 March for the first time in its 155-year history. However, johnlewis.com has continued to operate successfully, experiencing a significant uplift in sales.
Sharon White, partner and chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The momentous events of the last few months have tested our resilience as a business, but our resourcefulness, innovation and the spirit of cooperation between partners has really shone through.
“It’s been heart-warming to see John Lewis partners stepping into different roles to support our Waitrose supermarkets and to keep johnlewis.com running.
“Our shops reopening is a sign of hope as we begin to find our new normal. There’s now an opportunity for us to come back stronger as a business, and offer the safety and reassurance that customers will want.”
As John Lewis takes the first steps in reopening its doors for business, a raft of measures will be introduced into its shops drawing from the partnership’s experience of applying and managing social distancing in its Waitrose supermarkets, as well as from within the delivery and warehousing aspects of its e-commerce businesses.
New measures include a "Customer Service Host" assigned to welcome customers into the store and to answer any questions. Shop entrances will be reduced, there will be queues and caps on the number of customers entering stores and prominent social distancing signage. There will also be protective screens at checkouts and hand sanitiser provided for customers to use at all entrances.
While the proposed phased reopening strategy is welcome news, sources close to the company said in April that it had started discussions on which department stores should keep their doors closed permanently, with it “highly unlikely” that all 50 stores would reopen.