John Lewis reins in expansion plans

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Retail bellwether John Lewis will this week open its latest store, in Leicester, but its managing director, Andy Street, has told The Independent on Sunday that the company's rapid UK expansion is set to be curtailed by the credit crunch.

"Yes, the brakes could be put on our roll-out of stores across the UK, but it's not down to us – it's down to the property companies," said Mr Street.

John Lewis typically comes into a new development as a key "anchor" tenant, but with property firms scaling back their own plans, the retailer could be forced to reduce the number of new stores it is planning. It has 11, including branches in Cardiff and Northern Ireland, in the pipeline.

The opening of the Leicester store comes after John Lewis, which gives weekly sales figures, said sales fell last week by 2.3 per cent over the same period in 2007. The flagship Oxford Street store continued to perform well, but the Nottingham outlet slumped more than 14 per cent.