The retail giant has announced it will no longer be opening a store in Brighton City Centre but its reasons don't bear scrutiny
After a major piece of consultation and much speculation, the John Lewis Partnership will no longer be opening a store at the junction of North Street and Queens Road. They have released the following statement:
We are disappointed to announce that we have decided not to progress our plans to open a John Lewis shop on North Street in Brighton.
We acquired the site positive that we could build a John Lewis shop, but having explored all options we cannot deliver a shop on this site with the extent of demolition and rebuilding required. We are pleased to have secured a new lease with Boots, who wished to continue to trade in Brighton, so that the property will remain occupied for the long term.
John Lewis owns the freehold of the site and will be putting 129-133 Queens Road on the market shortly, with all its existing tenants in place. These include Boots, Krispy Kreme and First Choice.
BUSINESS FORUM COMMENT
The idea that a major player like John Lewis would be surprised at the amount of work that would be needed to build a new store after it had bought the site is difficult to swallow. Clearly they would have had expert advice that could even tell them how many bricks would be needed.
Much more likely is that changing retail fortunes and a UK economy that is tightening by the week has made them think again. The fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has made life more difficult for all retailers but department stores, which sell a large variety of imported goods, more than most.
Also online sales for the company increased by over 16% as shopping via mobile phones increased by a whopping 73% in 2016 while sales in its stores fell 1%.
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