Burton Group dismisses almost 2,000 to cut costs

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The Independent Online
BURTON GROUP, the fashion retailer, sacked more than 1,900 people yesterday in an attempt to streamline its bureaucratic head office, remove under-employed shop assistants, and bear down on its mammoth wages bill.

Burton is dismissing 933 buyers, merchandisers, personnel and financial staff and others employed in central functions in five different locations in the West End of London. They represent 25 per cent of the head office workforce.

It is also axing about 1,000 full- time shop-floor jobs across all its fashion chains, which include Burton, Top Shop, Top Man, Principles, Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Champion Sport.

Burton will inform shop assistants over the next six weeks. It expects to create up to 3,000 part- time jobs instead. Most of the casualties will be offered part- time work.

Burton has also sacked Geoff Powell, the operations director recruited a year ago from Kingfisher. The former chairman of B&Q and Comet was on a three- year rolling contract and will be compensated. John Davies, the company secretary, also resigned.

The cost of the redundancies will be pounds 10m- pounds 15m, Burton said. That cost will be paid back in the current year in savings on wages.

Paul Morris, the stores analyst with Goldman Sachs, applauded the streamlining, raising his profits forecast for 1993/94 from pounds 62.5m to pounds 72.5m. 'And it will wash its face in the current year.'

In other job developments yesterday, First Data Resources, a credit card processing firm controlled by American Express, axed 460 jobs in Basildon, Essex, and Unigate announced 80 job losses.

First Data, which processes for Access, said it would seek volunteers before making compulsory redundancies. The cuts were necessary because of the sluggish economy and more automation.

St Ivel Chilled Products, the yoghurt-manufacturing division of Unigate, is to shed 80 of its 2,000 employees in response to the continued recession. The jobs will go at its factory and head office at Wootton Bassett, its technical centre in Bradford-on-Avon and its computer centre at Trowbridge, all in Wiltshire.

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