John Lewis to make announcement to staff on future of Knight & Lee, Portsmouth’s oldest department store

FEARS are growing about the future of Southsea's Knight & Lee department store as it has closed for the day to make an announcement to staff.

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 11:18 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:36 pm
Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Sarah Standing (180842-1693)

Signs appeared on the door this morning saying: ‘We’re sorry that this shop will not be opening today as we’re making an important announcement to our partners. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.’ 

Customer services confirmed that the store would be closed for the rest of the day and reopen at 9am tomorrow once all staff had been informed of the announcement. 

A statement is expected from the company later today. 

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Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Sarah Standing (180842-1693)

Cllr Steve Pitt, deputy leader, Portsmouth City Council said: ‘We understand that the John Lewis Partnership is making an announcement to staff this morning about the future of their Knight & Lee Southsea store. 

‘The council is in contact with the company, awaiting their official statement and we will provide a further update later today.’

Southsea resident and former councillor Linda Symes said: ‘If Knight & Lee were to go it would be a huge blow to Palmerston Road and to the community.

‘It would be a very shocking and sad day for Southsea. It has been there such a long time.

A sign on the door of Knight and Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea today (Wednesday, January 23) Picture: Ross Lucas-Young

'We were all focused on the Debenhams in that road, thinking that it might close. But Knight & Lee going would be especially sad because it has such a large customer base. Palmerston Road would be very different without it.'

Knight & Lee in Southsea, one of only two John Lewis stores in the UK to retain its original name, has been owned by the company since 1940.

The Palmerston Road store was founded by Jesse Knight and Herbert Soden Lee in 1887.