Marks & Spencer is the latest U.K. retailer to slash jobs as the coronavirus crisis continues to rail on the British high street.
The British retailer announced today plans to cut about 950 jobs as part of a store management restructuring. The company, which employs approximately 78,000 persons in the United Kingdom, said the goal of the process is to remove role duplication, more clearly delineate leadership accountabilities and free up its retail teams to focus more on customers.
“Our proposals reflect an important next step in our Never the Same Again program to accelerate our transformation and become a stronger, leaner and more resilient business,” said director of retail, operations and property Sacha Berendji. “Through the crisis we have seen how we can work faster and more flexibly by empowering store teams and it’s essential that we embed that way of working. Our priority now is to support all those affected through the consultation process and beyond.”
Marks & Spencer said it has started collective consultation with its employee representative group. It plans to first offer voluntary redundancy to affected workers across central support functions, central operations and property and store management.
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British retailers had already been squeezed in recent years by rising rents, low margins and uncertainty surrounding Brexit — and the coronavirus crisis has created a gloomier picture for companies due to government-mandated store closures and decreases in discretionary spending.
As British retail continues to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus, Marks & Spencer is one of several boldface retailers to slash jobs. Ted Baker has revealed plans to lay off about 500 workers, including 200 at its London headquarters, while department stores Harrods and John Lewis have put approximately 700 and 1,300 jobs on the line, respectively, as they undergo restructuring. And Topshop parent Arcadia said it would eliminate around 500 of its roughly 2,500 corporate workers. Meanwhile, several British retailers, including Debenhams and Oasis and Warehouse, fell into administration in the past few months.
In the U.K. this year, lost sales due to the impact of the virus and quarantine measures are expected to total approximately 17.28 billion pounds, according to the Centre for Retail Research. The Centre further predicts that 20,622 stores will close across the region (compared with 16,073 in 2019) and that 235,704 people will lose their jobs, up from 143,128 last year.