BUSINESS and council leaders have said John Lewis’ decision to remain in Southsea indefinitely is welcome news for the city.
There had been concerns the Knight & Lee store in Palmerston Road would shut up shop, with John Lewis named as one of the anchor stores of the proposed Northern Quarter development in Portsmouth.
However, the company’s board has decided the retail giant will keep its presence in Southsea, giving a boost to the local economy and protecting jobs.
Andrew Murphy, the company’s retail director, told The News: ‘John Lewis has had a presence in Southsea since it bought Knight & Lee in 1940.
‘Following an internal review I can confirm that our Knight & Lee shop continues to trade profitably and will remain open – we hope this puts rumours to rest about the future of the shop.
‘The people of Southsea and the surrounding area continue to value the service provided by our partners in Knight & Lee as evidenced by high customer satisfaction scores – and we remain delighted to serve them.’
Small business owner and chairman of Southsea Association, Vincent Faithfull, said residents and local retailers will be pleased with the decision. He said: ‘The association welcomes the news. It is something we have been concerned about for a long time.
‘As a trader I feel the same. It attracts people and it gives us a high-quality store. I am not sure what kind of company could afford to maintain a unit like that apart from a large company like John Lewis.
‘It would have caused a real concern to local people.’
Stewart Dunn, chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed the news.
‘I think the decision is encouraging and can only help attract consumers and visitors to Southsea.
‘It will help protect and create new jobs in the future,’ he said.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the decision was ‘an important one’.
He said: ‘It’s important because there have been uncertainties for a long, long time about what is going to happen. It’s a shop that people really value.
‘I am really pleased for people in Southsea.’
John Lewis would not comment on plans for a store in the Northern Quarter.
‘Company’s decision to stay is a step in the right ditection’ - Read The News Comment about this issue