John Lewis puts Winter Hill golf club in Cookham up for sale

John Lewis puts Winter Hill golf club in Cookham up for sale

A golf course owned by the John Lewis Partnership for almost a century has been put up for sale as the department store owner seeks to cut costs and after failing to attract staff onto the links.

John Lewis will close Winter Hill Golf Club in Cookham, near Maidenhead in Berkshire, by the end of next month. It intends to sell the clubhouse and the course, which includes two residential properties.

The employee-owned retailer is understood to be in talks with Maidenhead Golf Club, which is considering moving to the Cookham course.

The 200-acre site was bought by John Spedan Lewis, the founder of John Lewis, in 1938, with the vision of turning it into a golf course. However, the club did not open until 1976, 13 years after his death, having been used as farmland in the Second World War.

John Lewis staff can get a discounted rate on membership at the club — although use has diminished, it said. The course is also open to outside members.

A fifth of Winter Hill members are working or retired John Lewis staff and their dependants, equating to less than 0.2 per cent of its total employee base.

To progress a sale and release the funds, the partnership, which also owns Waitrose supermarkets, said it would need to consult with those 400 members.

A John Lewis spokeswoman said: “This isn’t a decision we took lightly. However, the club is no longer used as it once was and with the high level of investment required for a very small internal audience, we have decided that Winter Hill is no longer the best use of our resources.”

The retailer has been trying to get costs down for the past few years in an attempt to restore its former glory. In October 2020 Sharon White, its chairwoman, announced a five-year strategy aimed at reaching £400 million in profits by 2025. This involves whittling 51 John Lewis stores down to 34, plus one outlet, making several thousand head office and retail staff redundant.