John Lewis, which has stores in Bluewater, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells, may shut 8 further shops across England

John Lewis could close eight more shops, just months after shutting a number of its stores to secure the brand's future.

The department store could bring down the shutters on a fifth of its 42 remaining shops, according to a Sunday Times report, although it is not yet known if any in Kent will be affected.

Ashford's John Lewis store was opened in 2013, making it one of the chain's more modern branches
Ashford's John Lewis store was opened in 2013, making it one of the chain's more modern branches

It means hundreds of jobs are in jeopardy as negotiations with landlords continue, although an announcement is not expected to be made until next month.

The high-end chain has three stores in Kent, including in Ashford, Tunbridge Wells and Bluewater.

They survived the first round of cuts last summer, although eight other stores – including two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford – did not reopen after lockdown, leading to the loss of 1,300 jobs. A further 1,500 positions were cut from its HQ.

The company suffered a £635m loss last September, and is looking to react to changing shopping habits, with more consumers buying online.

Inside Ashford's John Lewis
Inside Ashford's John Lewis

Four 'at home' shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth also remained closed, as well as two travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras.

At the time, Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners.

"However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership – and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop.

"Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business."

John Lewis has refused to comment on the latest round of reported closures.

It is the latest blow for the high street, which has already seen a number of retail giants bow to the pressure of the pandemic and close stores.

Among the list of casualties are Debenhams, Oasis, Cath Kidston and Bonmarche.

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