Mayor meets John Lewis Chairman Dame Sharon White in attempt to save Watford store

The Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor has met with Dame Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, in order to try and save the town’s store and the jobs of the 382 staff members employed there.

The Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor was joined by Watford Borough Council’s Managing Director Donna Nolan and Watford MP Dean Russell as he grilled the Chairman about their plans to leave the town and what could be done to persuade them to stay.

John Lewis opened in 1880 as Trewins on Queen’s Road, before moving into the Harlequin Centre and becoming John Lewis. When they moved into the centre in 1990, they were given a 999 year sub lease, effectively a freehold on their site, meaning they paid Intu no rent. This was agreed by the previous council administration at the time.
 
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said, ‘Like so many people in the town I was devastated that John Lewis said they will be leaving Watford. They have played a huge part in the lives of generations of local residents. It’s heart-breaking to see hundreds of people lose their jobs.
 
'I pressed Dame Sharon on the reasons why they chose to shut their Watford store whilst they paid no rent, what support they would put in place to those staff that lost their jobs and what they would do to try and ensure new retailers would come into this space, given their role as freeholder. I also was keen to know if there was anything we could do to encourage John Lewis to stay at their Watford store.
‘Dame Sharon was clear about the challenges John Lewis stores face with more online sales and massive business rate bills set by the government. That needs to change urgently and I will do all I can to stand up for people in our town and make sure we have a successful and thriving town centre.’