Downing Street has said the Government stands ready to support John Lewis employees facing job losses.
The shops identified for closure include two of the smallest in the estate – travel hub shops at Heathrow and St Pancras, four At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and two full size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.
Approximately 1,300 workers across the eight shops will now enter into consultation.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We understand that this will be a difficult time for employees and their families and we stand ready to support them in any way that we can.
“I understand this is part of the John Lewis and Partners restructuring which recognises that more people have switched from shopping instore to online.
“John Lewis Partnership has said that redundancies are always an absolute last resort and every effort would be made to find new roles where possible for those who wish to remain within the partnership such as transferring to local Waitrose shops or online operations.”
The Government is confident the Job Retention Bonus scheme is the “right policy” to help protect jobs, a Treasury spokesman has said.
He told a Westminster briefing: “What the head of HMRC said was that there was a clear policy rationale for this policy, but that both because of timing – i.e. this has all been worked out very fast like all the work during the crisis has, and because of the uncertainty about take-up in the policy – in formal terms he asked for a direction on it.
“We have been very transparent about that, including in the fact that you will recall yesterday when we talked about this policy we said up to £9.4 billion was the cost because it would entirely depend on take-up, but we are confident it is the right policy to help make sure as many of those million jobs are protected as we reopen.”
The potential loss of 4,000 jobs at high street pharmacy chain Boots will be “very worrying news” for employees, Number 10 has said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This will be very worrying news for Boots employees and we stand ready to support those workers and their families in any way possible.
“The Chancellor has said that sadly we won’t be able to protect every job but we have put in place a very substantial package which allows businesses to draw upon a range of financial support during this challenging time including loans, tax deferrals and cash grants.
“Anyone affected by job losses will also be able to access a wide range of support including Universal Credit and the new-style jobseeker’s allowance, as well as benefit from the measures announced yesterday by the Chancellor to get people back into work.”