John Lewis Partnership said on Wednesday it has signed a deal to lease a 1 million square distribution centre from supermarket group Tesco to help meet growing online demand, with the creation of 500 jobs.
The employee-owned group, which runs John Lewis department stores and upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, said the warehouse in Milton Keynes, north west of London, would be second in size to its 2 million square foot campus four miles away.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, its online sales have grown from 40% to more than 60% of the department stores’ total sales and John Lewis Chairman Sharon White has said it could reach 70%.
John Lewis plans to start operating the warehouse, which is under an 11 year lease, during summer 2022.
The group plans to invest £50 million ($69 million) in the department stores online operation in 2021 and a further more than £100 million in online growth over the course of its five-year strategy.
However, the new jobs will only partly offset recent losses as last month John Lewis said it planned to cut 1,000 management roles. That followed a March announcement about the permanent closure of eight stores, hitting 1,465 jobs, and the closure of eight stores in July last year, affecting 1,300 positions.