John Lewis & Partners is to close Knight & Lee & Partners in Southsea, the smallest full line shop in its estate (at 35,000 sqft), in July 2019.

According to the retailer, the decision was driven by a number of factors specific to the site, including its restrictive physical condition, the high cost it would take to modernise, and an offer for the freehold of the building.

The closure puts all 127 shop partners at risk of redundancy.

Dino Rocos, partner and operations director, says: "We have not taken this decision lightly and we considered every implication for our partners, customers and the community. However, a unique combination of factors, including the significant investment required and the opportunity to sell the property freehold, makes this the right decision for the financial sustainability of our business.

"We also want to bring the very best of what John Lewis & Partners has to offer to all of our customers and, in Southsea, we believe we can better serve them through our Southampton and Chichester shops, and online with an improved Click & Collect offer at Waitrose & Partners Southsea.

"Our team at Knight & Lee are a loyal and long-serving team of partners. We are doing everything we can to offer them roles elsewhere in our business and finding suitable roles for as many partners as possible is an absolute priority.  Nevertheless, there will unfortunately be some redundancies and we will work hard to support all the partners affected."

John Lewis has a small store estate, and its strategy to prioritise differentiation places focus on maintaining its existing estate, with some resizing, repurposing or relocating – John Lewis is not planning other closures at this time.

As part of its strategy to increase productivity, the John Lewis Partnership has also announced that it will restructure its maintenance function, moving the majority of activity and service provision to a single maintenance provider, CBRE.