Knight & Lee closure could have ‘negative implications’ for retail in Southsea, business expert warns

A BUSINESS expert is warning that the closure of the city’s oldest department store could have ‘negative implications’ for retail in the area.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 4:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:57 pm
Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

John Lewis Partnership announced yesterday that Knight & Lee on Palmerston Road, Southsea, would close in July, with 127 jobs set to be lost. 

The freehold has been sold to developers That Group and the building could be turned into homes following the closure of the store. 

Dr Adam Cox, principal lecturer in economics and finance at University of Portsmouth, has warned that shutting of Knight & Lee could have an ‘impact' on the economy of Southsea. 

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Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

He said: ‘A shopping location has a ‘clustering affect’. Stores are drawn to locate in close proximity to other stores.

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‘John Lewis (Knight & Lee) seems to be a key store in bringing shoppers to a location, it has an enormous gravitational pull. 

‘Removal of any store could have the impact of reducing shoppers’ interest in visiting a location.

‘The knock-on effect is reducing footfall for all stores in that location. In Southsea, JL and Waitrose likely attracts the largest numbers in their own right.

‘So, this news has possibly one of the largest negative implications for retail in Southsea.’

Dr Cox also warned that the closure of Knight & Lee could have ‘wider economic implications’ which would be caused by the unemployment of the staff who worked at the store. 

He explained: ‘Being unemployed is likely to reduce expenditure in the local economy (other businesses) and contribution towards government funding.

‘Although we’ve now seen a number of businesses disappear, there remains a thriving local farmer’s market and a variety of unique stores which appear to still have a reasonable foothold in the market place.

‘We’re even about to see the return of the ‘micropub’ (by Southsea Brewing Co) which historically re-used redundant small retail spaces in times of recession.

‘This situation does indeed provide an opportunity for the current unique and local stores to fill some of the market gap the JL has left.

‘However, the rental price for retail in the new development (if that is the eventual use) would need to be low enough to encourage the growth of such unique and local business.’