Via Yahoo Finance

LONDON (Reuters) – British department store chain John Lewis said on Wednesday it was “highly unlikely” all its 50 stores would re-open after the coronavirus lockdown.

The employee-owned retailer said it would re-open nine more stores, including in Scotland and Wales, on July 13, and its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street on July 16.

That would take the total re-opened following the easing of the lockdown on June 15 to 32, with plans for more, but not all, shops to re-open later in the summer.

“The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now and we have shared this with our Partners (employees),” John Lewis said in a statement.

“As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. However, no decision has been made and any details would be shared with Partners first by the middle of July.”

The department store chain is part of the John Lewis Partnership [JLPLC.UL], which also owns the Waitrose supermarket business.

In May the partnership warned that department store sales could crash by 35% this year in a worst-case scenario.

The group also said it would accelerate a strategic review that new Chairman Sharon White launched in March.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Stephen Addison)

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