WFH leads John Lewis to downsize London HQ

The John Lewis Partnership’s major cost-cutting strategy continues with news that the UK retail giant is looking to dramatically downsize its London headquarters.

John Lewis

The Partnership, which includes John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, is searching for new offices in central London. But it’s not just about saving money as it’s citing the need for less space with more staff now working partly from home in the post-pandemic period.

The retailer is ending the lease on its 220,000 sq ft head office in Victoria early and needs to move to a new site by the end of next year. However, it has ruled out moving into the new offices being built above its now-downsized flagship department store on Oxford Street.

“Like many businesses, we don’t need as much space now we have a blended approach to working in offices, home and out in the business,” The Times reported a spokesperson as saying.

COO Andrew Murphy also wrote on LinkedIn in January that its current offices were “no longer suitable for our needs” as the partnership had adopted what he termed a “blended working” policy.

The latest downsizing plan comes amid a broader shake-up across the business. Chairman Sharon White has said the company not only needs to become “more efficient and productive” but also “step up our transformation”.

The group has raised its cost-cutting target from £300 million to £900 million, partly to go towards radically cutting a £350 million debt pile that either needs to be repaid or refinanced within the next two years.

The John Lewis news follows reports that rival M&S might seek to establish smaller office hubs across the whole of the UK as the retailer said the lease on its London offices was ending in 2028.

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