The Chamber and its partners have released a statement following discussions with the John Lewis Partnership earlier today.

The statement in full said:

"Earlier today, in response to the proposal by the John Lewis Partnership to close its Aberdeen store, the administration leaders of Aberdeen City Council, and chief executives of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and Aberdeen Inspired met with representatives of John Lewis and the Scottish Government.

"We welcomed the opportunity to meet and build on the dialogue with the John Lewis Partnership in the days following the announcement and shared the strong feelings members of our communities have regarding the proposed plans for closure, and to confirm the support of the wider business community in the city and region.

"The immediate priority for the John Lewis Partnership is its engagement and consultation with its staff. Once that process is complete, we agreed to continue to work with John Lewis on its next steps.

"We took the opportunity of today’s meeting to provide an update on the significant investments being made in the city region including the City Region Deal, the Aberdeen Harbour South Expansion, the City Centre Masterplan investments and, more recently, the support from the UK Government and Scottish Government around energy transition. We also provided an update on the Council’s own £150m budget commitment this month to city centre regeneration.

"We discussed the challenging trading environment and shift to online channels that the retail sector now operates within. While that may mean that the proposal to close the Aberdeen store is implemented, we confirmed our support to the John Lewis Partnership as it assesses any potential new business models in the Aberdeen catchment.

"Collectively we agreed to continue to work together and with other stakeholders to build on today’s conversation with John Lewis. We will seek assurances from the Scottish government around any financial aid to help retain a John Lewis store in the city and protect jobs.

"We subsequently agreed to write to the political leads of the major parties asking them what they intend to do to support Aberdeen should they form a government after the May election. The 23,000-signature petition highlights the strength of feeling from citizens to John Lewis to maintain links with the city and its north of Scotland presence.

"After today’s meeting with John Lewis, we will continue to work with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Cities Alliance as they develop CV19 cities’ recovery plans in the longer term."

Councillor Douglas Lumsden

Councillor Jenny Laing

Councillor Marie Boulton

Russell Borthwick, chief executive, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

Adrian Watson, chief executive, Aberdeen Inspired

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