John Lewis Partnership have announced that Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road will shut in July after being part of the high street for more than a century. The news has come as a shock to both Hampshire and Portsmouth Councils.
Ross McNally, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce executive chairman, said: ‘Although we all appreciate that changes in retail purchasing patterns are affecting businesses globally, it is especially sad when such a longstanding business announces its closure. It will be a great loss to the Portsmouth and Southsea retail scene.’
Business advice company, Begbies Traynor, who specialise in turning around failing companies, have also reacted with sadness to the announcement.
Regional managing partner, Julie Palmer, commented: ‘It is very sad to see the closure of an anchor store on any High Street, but this is a particularly bad blow when you consider both Knight & Lee’s long and rich history in Southsea as well as the strength of the John Lewis brand. This can’t be a decision that was taken lightly.’
Ms Palmer has cited a cocktail of falling customer footfall and unsustainable levels of price cuts as a recipe for potential closure.
‘These are difficult time for retailers, with many having discounted prices so heavily that they are clinging on, rather than surviving or riding out the January blues. While cutting prices drastically to sell stock in the short term is okay, margins are being squeezed. Without bold strategic change more profit warnings, failures and store closures are simply being delayed,’ she explained.