Everything we know so far about closure of Knight & Lee in Portsmouth
A HISTORIC department store is set to close in the coming months, following a shock announcement.
John Lewis Partnership revealed today that it would be closing Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road in 2019.
The company will be making 127 jobs redundant as a result of the decision to shut the department store, which has been a fixture of Southsea for over a century.
Here’s everything we know so far:
When is it closing?
John Lewis have not confirmed the exact date that Knight & Lee will close its doors for the final time.
However the company has said that it will shut the Southsea store in July 2019 - which is around six months from now.
Why is Knight & Lee shutting?
John Lewis has blamed a ‘unique combination of factors’ as the reason why they are closing Knight & Lee, despite saying they would keep the store open in 2014.
These factors included:
- The physical condition, size, age and shape of the property restricts the customer offer;
- It would require significant investment to modernise Knight & Lee;
- At the end of last year, there was a chance to sell the freehold of the building and close Knight & Lee.
You can read more about John Lewis’s decision to shut Knight & Lee and the reasons on our website.
What will happen next?
John Lewis have sold the freehold for Knight & Lee to a ‘urban regenerator’ called That Group.
The building could be redeveloped and converted into housing.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘Whilst it is regrettable that a pillar of the local retail community and a key landmark in the Southsea retail offer will be closing, we are very excited at the prospect of converting and restoring such a well-loved building into something suitable for the future.’
What has the reaction from residents been?
Responding to The News’s initial story on the announcement that Knight & Lee would be closing this year, readers shared their sorrow.
With comments on Facebook describing it as ‘very sad’ and even an ‘end of an era'.
While shoppers on Palmerston Road today have spoken of their shock at the announcement this morning.
One said: ‘We’ve just been told they will be closing it. It is a bit of a shock. We had a feeling something like this may happen, though.’
How have politicians reacted?
Politicians were united today in their pledge to protect the city's high streets.
They have refused to let the Knight & Lee closure 'rip the heart out of Southsea.'
City council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'I'm incredibly disappointed that John Lewis didn't come to talk to the council about this previously to discuss options going forward.
Portsmouth South MP and councillor Stephen Morgan also asked the developers to involve the community.
He said: 'This cannot be another nail in the coffin for Palmerston Road.’
How long has Knight & Lee been open?
The department store dates back well over a century, after being founded by brothers-in-law Jesse Knight and Edward Herbert Soden Lee in the 19th Century.
What was your reaction to the news about the closure? Let us know in the comments below.