United Kingdom

Primark, Poundland and Ikea announce reopening plans as Boris gives green light

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced non-essential retail can reopen on April 12 (Picture: PA)

Some of the UK’s most popular retailers have announced reopening plans after Boris Johnson confirmed the next step of his roadmap out of lockdown can go ahead.

Customer favourites including John Lewis, Primark, Poundland and Ikea have all confirmed they will be welcoming customers back on April 12.

A John Lewis spokesperson said 32 stores will be reopening after 16 closed for good as the Covid pandemic left a trail of destruction on the British high street.

A number of social distancing precautions will be in place, with customer service hosts managing queues, new drop boxes for returns and the quarantining of returned stock for 48 hours.

Next-day click and collect services are resuming in John Lewis shops from Monday, with more than 900 locations across the country.

John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks said staff were ‘delighted to be welcoming our much-missed customers into our shops’ to ‘reunite them with the joy of physical shopping’.

Ikea has also announced staff will reopen outlets across England and Wales on April 12, after non-essential retail and hairdressing started up again in Scotland on Monday.

Stores will use staggered entry systems, have hand sanitiser on offer and will launch more regular cleaning routines.

The company will operate a contact-free takeaway service, although Ikea restaurants remain closed until the next step of lockdown easing on May 17.

A John Lewis staff member cleans shoes at the White City store ahead of reopening on April 12 (Picture: PA)
A John Lewis worker gets fitting rooms ready as stores prepare to welcome customers back (Picture: PA)
Shoppers doing some last-minute Christmas shopping on Oxford Street in December 2020 (Picture: In Pictures via Getty Images)

Primark is planning to extend opening hours from Monday, with stores open for two hours extra on average next week.

Opening times will vary by store, with the new hours designed to reduce queues, spread demand and give people more time to shop safely.

Primark chief executive Paul Marchant said: ‘Safety remains at the front of our minds. We have extended opening hours across almost all of our stores to help meet demand safely but we’re also asking our customers to keep up the support and spirit they showed last year, particularly if queuing outside or in-store.’

Meanwhile, a Poundland spokesperson has confirmed the company’s ‘hibernating’ stores’ will be back in business with health and safety measures in place.

Most of the company’s shops have remained open throughout the third national lockdown as they are deemed as ‘essential’ – but 55 Poundland and Pep&Co stores were closed.

While many companies are shutting down outlets, bosses will launch 25 to 30 Poundland and Dealz stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland over the 12 months to the end of September.

Poundland has created more than 400 jobs over the past year and expects to create at least 250 more roles by the end of September after acquitting Fultons Foods in 2020.

Barry Williams, Poundland managing director, said: ‘It is fantastic news that our high street neighbours are preparing to get back to business – not just other retailers but the cafes, gyms and hairdressers who make our town centres the vibrant places people love.

‘We’ve missed you and are pleased you’re coming back.’

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