Crunch talks to save Aberdeen’s John Lewis store were taking place today with business and council leaders.
The special task force has been set up in a bid to convince bosses at the national chain to keep the George Street department store open.
A number of city organisations were due to meet for the first time today, with a potential support package for staff also on the agenda.
Aberdeen City Council business manager Ryan Houghton said: “Today’s meeting is about agreeing a clear strategy with a range of partners including Aberdeen Inspired, the Chamber of Commerce and others for a way forward in persuading John Lewis to change their decision.
“The council administration leaders will be looking to find a consensus and to set out the next steps including speaking with the Scottish Government who have indicated their intention to engage on the issue. These efforts will inform the proposals for discussion with John Lewis on Tuesday.”
John Lewis announced last week that it is considering the permanent closure of its city store – with around 265 workers expected to lose their jobs.
A petition to keep the store has reached nearly 23,000 signatures although John Lewis has said a final decision on the store has yet to be made.
Meanwhile, a member of John Lewis staff has said they are “gutted” that the city centre store may not open its doors again.
In a letter written to the Evening Express, Eleanor Heptinstall said she hopes bosses can find a way to give the department store’s George Street premises a future.
She said: “I am a partner at the John Lewis Aberdeen store –we are all gutted that our store may not open again.
“John Lewis Aberdeen plays a key role in attracting shoppers from Aberdeenshire, Inverness, the Highlands & Islands and even Norway to Aberdeen.
“Our presence, in turn, assists small businesses, the local hospitality and leisure industries and communities in Aberdeenshire.
“I myself moved to Aberdeen to study, as I used to work at Waitrose. What attracted me was being able to move within the John Lewis Partnership, to Aberdeen to assist me through university.
“Many students look for a richness in academic quality, shopping destinations, leisure and cultural activities when looking for a suitable university.”
“We all hope that the JLP executives change their minds, but if not, we hope we have left a lasting legacy to Aberdeen and that the city revitalises.”
Jamie Wishart, head of branch for John Lewis Aberdeen, said: “Our store has been at the heart of the city since 1989, with generations of partners serving our customers in Aberdeen with pride and passion.
“I know, having talked to many of our customers over my time here, how dearly loved our shop is and how disappointing news of the proposed closure will be. I would like to thank them for all their support and loyalty.”
John Lewis has been a stalwart store in Aberdeen’s city centre since it opened its doors in 1989.
With its distinctive, stepped concrete exterior, the branch on George Street has been a popular shopping destination for more than three decades.