John Lewis: 'Devastated' shopper sets up petition to save Watford store

image copyrightJohn Lewis
image captionTrewins changed its name to John Lewis Watford in 2001

A petition set up by a "devastated" shopper to try to save a John Lewis store has gathered more than 8,500 signatures in 24 hours.

Caroline Sampson, 57, said the shop was the "backbone" of Watford and is urging the town's council to ask the company to rethink its decision.

Mayor Peter Taylor said he would be "demanding answers" from the firm.

A spokesman for John Lewis said: "The proposed closure is not something we take lightly."

The company announced on Thursday it would be shutting eight stores around England, including Watford, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

Ms Sampson, who said nearly everything in her home is from the store, said it was "desperately needed" in a town which had already lost BHS and Debenhams.

"There are a lot of very upset and very angry people who won't take this decision lying down, I don't think we should let it go without a fight," she said.

image copyrightGeograph/N Chadwick
image captionJohn Lewis Watford is a familiar sight to many and alerts commuters on the West Coast line that they are about 20 minutes from London Euston

Former employee Ms Sampson, who worked for Waitrose in the 1990s, set up her petition within hours of the news being announced and said the response showed people's "affection and support for the store".

"I'm absolutely devastated by the news and I do wonder what is going to happen to Watford shopping centre... we have no department stores left.

"A friend phoned me yesterday in tears saying 'John Lewis is Watford'.

image copyrightWatford Museum
image captionTrewin Brothers celebrated King George V's silver jubilee in 1935

Ms Sampson, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, has also written to her local MP Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about the proposed closure.

"I appreciate that many people shop online, but you can't beat feeling a fabric for yourself, trying something on, or having someone well equipped enough to describe the merits of a washing machine or a computer," she said.

Elected mayor, Peter Taylor, said he met with John Lewis on Thursday and together with the management of shopping centre Intu had tried to persuade the retailer to stay.

"I will be demanding answers to people's questions, particularly why they have chosen to close the Watford store, and whether there is anything we can do to reverse this decision," he said.

A spokesman for John Lewis said: "We are incredibly grateful for the support our Watford shop has received - the strength of feeling underlines what a difficult decision this has been."

image copyrightBob Nunn
image captionTrewin Brothers was still in Queen's Road in 1988
image copyrightPicasa
image captionThe Trewin name only disappeared from the store in September 2001

John Lewis in Watford

  • In 1880, young Cornishman Arthur Trewin bought a small draper's shop in Queen's Road which became A Trewin and Co. Family Drapers
  • Trewin Brothers began in 1887 when Arthur was joined by his brother Henry.
  • The business was sold to Gordon Selfridge in 1918 and was run by his group until 1940
  • It was acquired by the John Lewis Partnership during World War Two but the store remained as Trewins
  • Trewins Partners moved to its store in the redeveloped Harlequin Centre (now Intu) in August 1990.
  • In September 2001, Trewins changed its name to John Lewis Watford

Source: John Lewis

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