The closure of flagship store John Lewis has angered West Midlands leaders but they are confident the 2022 Commonwealth Games will help Birmingham bounce back ©Getty Images

Leaders in the West Midlands have vowed to use the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to help the region bounce back after high-end department store John Lewis announced it was closing down its flagship store in the city.

The shop was a key part of the £150 million ($200 million/€165 million) Grand Central shopping centre opened to a huge fanfare in September 2015 as part of a major £600 million ($785 million/€660 million) transformation of New Street Station which its sat above.

The department store was closed in March when the British Government imposed a nationwide lockdown to combat the threat of coronavirus.

Last month, John Lewis announced it would not be re-opening the store.

The John Lewis Partnership said the decision was made to "secure the business's long-term future and respond to customers' shopping needs".

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, a former chief executive of John Lewis, had appealed to the owners unsuccessfully to re-consider their decision.

A joint statement from Street, Birmingham Council Leader Ian Ward, who had led the city's successful bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games,  and Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, claimed they were "astounded" at the decision to press ahead with the closure.

They accused John Lewis of failing "to make the most of the opportunity that Birmingham has offered them", and revealed there were "a number of organisations" interested in taking over the site.

"With major events such as the 2022 Commonwealth Games fast approaching and set to accelerate the region’s economic resurgence, we’ll work collaboratively as a region to welcome the myriad of businesses - including retailers - joining us on this exciting journey," they said.

"All three of us were united in making our case to John Lewis, as well as offering some viable alternatives for them to stay. 

"It is a great shame therefore that the retailer has decided to quit the city rather than attempt to make a success of any alternative proposal with our support.

"The Grand Central location is iconic for Birmingham, and we will now work with [shopping centre owners] Hammerson to make sure the space is filled promptly and appropriately.

"Today is a sad day for Birmingham, but one from which we will swiftly recover."