Basingstoke council is pulling out all the stops in a bid to stop John Lewis from leaving town, The Gazette can reveal.

The upmarket retailer announced its Basing View branch, which opened just six years ago, was among the eight stores earmarked for closure nationwide. In Basingstoke, this has left 93 people facing redundancy.

The news came as a blow to the town's retail offering which has lost Debenhams, Topshop and Zara all in the past year. 

But now a glimmer of hope remains for customers left upset by the news as The Gazette can report that the council has held a crisis meeting with the chain in a bid to stop the high-end retailer from leaving the town. 

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council helped facilitate the store's inception back in 2015.

Basingstoke Gazette: John Lewis' opening in November 2015John Lewis' opening in November 2015

Read more: A look back at John Lewis' Basingstoke opening in 2015 

Leader of the council, Cllr Ken Rhatigan, confirmed the authority was doing all it could to stop the retailer from exiting the town permanently.

He said: “We’ve held a meeting with John Lewis and outlined some of the reasons we felt their decision [to close their Basingstoke branch] was made without the facts.

"We will be presenting them with new information on why we believe they should stay, taking into account new investment and housing in the area, the overall population, and what’s happening in Basing View in terms of the redevelopment of Grosvenor House [and how this could benefit them]. We think Basingstoke has something positive to offer them.”

The leader said that the council had a “strong case” to put forward to the retailer and heard “encouraging” noises from them in response.

Letters to the Editor: Key councillors aren't fit for purpose 

Cllr Rhatigan said that ultimately, he would like John Lewis to reconsider its decision or find an alternative use for that section of the store, which also houses the town’s only Waitrose which is unaffected by the closure. 

He added: “The magic wand solution here would be for John Lewis to understand that they will make a profit from the rest of the building and either stay put or come up with a way of filling the rest of the building, either through an extended Waitrose or their John Lewis At Home option.”

A spokesman for John Lewis confirmed that talks had taken place but said it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to comment further, saying: “We have informed various public stakeholders of our plans, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on these conversations.  Our priority remains supporting our Basingstoke Partners through the consultation process which will begin soon.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s executive director of borough development Ian Boll said: “We have met with the John Lewis Partnership and will continue to support them as they develop plans for the John Lewis space in the building. We want to help them in finding a use that will complement the Waitrose store and work well as part of the rejuvenation of town centre, and the borough’s post-COVID economy recovery, to keep Basingstoke thriving in the future.”