Almost 80 jobs to go as John Lewis plans to close Leith warehouse

78 jobs are to go due to a John Lewis depot closure. Picture; Greg Macvean

78 jobs are to go due to a John Lewis depot closure. Picture; Greg Macvean

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DEPARTMENT store John Lewis plans to shut its warehouse in Leith with the loss of up to 78 jobs.

The company is centralising distribution at its existing delivery hub in Glasgow where 40 new jobs are to be created.

Staff said they were shocked by the news. Some have worked at the depot, off Bonnington Road, for more than 25 years.

The depot handles mainly home deliveries. A variety of roles are affected by the proposed closure, but the majority are delivery drivers, warehouse and admin staff.

One worker said: “The general feeling is of shock and anger and confusion. We are all quite baffled by this.

“We knew something was up because we were told in advance there was going to be an important announcement.

“But no-one envisaged what they announced. We had heard rumours they were looking into merging us with Glasgow’s delivery hub and relocating both sites to a new central depot, so we thought in the worst case scenario we’d move to a new warehouse in the Bathgate or Livingston area.

“But for them to announce that we’ll be moving all existing work to the Glasgow service building was a massive shock, mainly because it seems such a stupid decision. We will still have to do the same amount of deliveries to Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians, but now we’ll have to travel along Scotland’s busiest road every day.

“Most of us are really still in shock and dumbfounded, and angry.

“Everyone would be made redundant and we’re being offered to re-apply for our jobs – but in Glasgow.

“There are quite a few people there with really long service – at least half a dozen with over 25 years’ service.

“Most of us have between ten and 20 years’ service; so it will really hit us hard.

“There might be the possibility of working in Glasgow but it will mean at least an extra two hours’ commuting every day.”

The Leith service centre was built in 1973 and opened to coincide with the new John Lewis store in the St James Centre. A three-storey extension was added to the centre in 1994.

A John Lewis spokeswoman said they were speaking to staff – called partners by the firm – about how existing capacity in distribution sites could be used more efficiently.

She said: “Our site in Leith is no longer suitable to support our growing business, and by consolidating work in our more modern facility in Glasgow, it will enable us to run a more productive model.

“Our partners are at the heart of our business and we will be listening to their views through consultation on this matter in the coming months.

“We are creating new jobs at our Glasgow site as a result of these changes, and redeployment will be offered to partners wherever possible.”

The spokeswoman said the Leith closure was planned for the autumn and she insisted the changes would not affect customers at all.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com