Like many across the city, the York Conservatives were shocked today by the news that the John Lewis store at the Vangarde Retail Park will not be reopening on April 12th when non-essential retail businesses can begin in-store trading again.
With 209 jobs at risk, permanent closure of the store would be a big loss for the local economy and the York Conservatives will endeavour to do all that they can to convince John Lewis of the viability of the Vangarde outlet.
Commenting on the news, Conservative MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy, said:
While no brand has been immune to the challenges of the last year and the ongoing trend towards online retail, since opening in 2014 John Lewis has been a key anchor of the Vangarde Retail Park and has been warmly welcomed by local residents.
I have already been in touch with John Lewis about their York site and have a call scheduled for tomorrow where I will make sure that any decision is not being made as a knee jerk reaction to a most difficult pandemic year. Soon the Community Stadium will be welcoming thousands of York City FC and York City Knights fans to the retail park each week as well as hundreds of families visiting the cinema and other leisure offerings within the complex, meaning John Lewis will have an incredible pool of potential custom to add to their already loyal shopper base.
Before the pandemic I had only heard good reports of the York outlet's performance compared to other John Lewis outlets and I will make the case that York still has a promising future as a home to a John Lewis store.
In my discussions tomorrow, I will also ensure that John Lewis commit to effectively communicate with their staff, many of whom are my constituents, during this period of uncertainty and offer them the support expected from a responsible employer.
Cllr Paul Doughty, Conservative Group Leader, added:
This is a big blow for York and I hope John Lewis will reconsider their decision, with York's store having a significant sphere of influence across North Yorkshire. The store provides high quality jobs and is a great boost to the local economy in terms in particular of people coming from further afield to shop there and also nearby. I will work with Julian Sturdy MP to try and persuade John Lewis to change its mind.