Business chiefs and city leaders were due to meet bosses at John Lewis today in a bid to convince the retail giant to remain in Aberdeen.
Last week the chain announced plans to close the branch on George Street – the northernmost in the UK and the only Scottish store outside the central belt.
The closure of the outlet would lead to the loss of 265 jobs, although any final decision on its future would be subject to a consultation with staff.
Yesterday we revealed a taskforce – including council leaders and key figures in Aberdeen’s business scene – had been set up to lobby the chain to keep the store open.
It was due to meet with bosses at John Lewis for the first time earlier today.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden, who along with fellow administration chiefs Jenny Laing and Marie Boulton sits on the taskforce, said he hoped recent “big announcements” regarding investment in the city would be taken into account.
“There have been a lot of big announcements in Aberdeen recently,” Mr Lumsden said.
“There is the energy transition zone and the energy transition fund from the government.
“As a local authority we have also pledged £150 million into city centre redevelopment as well so there is a lot going on and we want to make sure John Lewis are aware of all the good things going on in the local economy before making a final decision.
“In the whole of the north region our earnings are still above average. We might have had a tough couple of years but we do see some good signs for the future and it would be good if John Lewis were part of that.
“I understand if someone from John Lewis was just looking at the numbers and is only seeing sales falling, but we would urge them to look at the bigger picture and the investment coming to the area. We hope they would take all that into consideration before making a final decision.”
It is understood a key issue for the retailer is the size of the outlet, with bosses at John Lewis believing they do not need 200,000 square feet of space.
However, the taskforce is keen to explore alternatives that could entice the retailer to reconsider its decision.
One possibility being considered is that of opening a smaller John Lewis branch, along with a Waitrose store, either within the same building or in another location in the city centre.
However, that option would require vehicle access and parking.
Even if the outlet does close down, John Lewis would still need to pay business rates and other costs such as security, since it is the owner of the building.
The taskforce sees the branch as vital not just for Aberdeen, but for the whole of the north of Scotland, with the city as a whole viewed as a shopping hub for people in Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.
One of the major fears among members of the group is a “domino” effect, where other businesses in the city close as a result of John Lewis’ withdrawal from Aberdeen.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We had a detailed meeting between Aberdeen City Council leaders and other business organisation leads and we now carry this strong collective will to the table.
“It was lost on no one what John Lewis partnership’s presence in Aberdeen means to the city and indeed the wider north of Scotland.“