The death knell for Basingstoke's John Lewis store has been sounded after the chain confirmed the store will close down permanently.

One of the town's flagship stores, John Lewis identified its Basingstoke branch as one of eight that were proposed for closure following the coronavirus pandemic.

It consulted with its partners over the proposal, but has this morning confirmed that the store, at Eastrop roundabout, will remain permanently closed.

The Gazette understands 93 jobs are now at risk, although the chain has pledged to support its employees.

Meanwhile, the adjoining Waitrose store is not at risk.

Alison Gilbert, Head of Branch for John Lewis Basingstoke, said: "I am extremely grateful for the incredible dedication, professionalism and hard work that our Partners have shown during this challenging time for them.

"They remain our absolute priority and we will continue to support them in every way possible.

"I understand the disappointment confirmation of the closure will cause, however, the John Lewis Partnership will still be represented in the town through our neighbouring Waitrose.

"Our team here would like to express our genuine gratitude for their loyalty and all the support we have received over these past few months.”

It comes after a torrid year for Basingstoke's retail sector, with high-profile names such as Debenhams, Top Shop, Laura Ashley and Zara all closing recently.

Staff affected by the closure will have access to a support programme which assists with CV writing and interview skills, whilst those with two or more years of service will have access to a retraining fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a qualification.

Partners who have worked with the business for more than a year would be entitled to Partnership redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age.

Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.

John Lewis opened its new store less than six years ago, in November 2015, and was a big boost to the town ahead of the regeneration of Basing View.

However, in March, it was identified as one of eight shops earmarked for closure, which also included shops in Ashford, Chester, Tunbridge Wells, Aberdeen, Peterborough, Sheffield and York.

The chain seeked to rebalance its store estate to reflect changing ways of customers shopping, with John Lewis expecting 60-70 per cent of sales to be made online in the future.