Burton to shed 500 more jobs

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The Independent Online
BURTON Group, owner of the Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Principles chains, is poised to announce up to 500 redundancies as part of a cost-cutting exercise to beat the recession.

A senior company source said that some departments were expectingstaff cuts of up to 20 per cent, as Burton implements a programme to bring 'best practices' to all its operating subsidiaries.

Eddie Gallagher, Burton's head of investor relations, said he could not confirm the job cuts, which will affect head office, buying and merchandising staff, but said the results of the business review should be known soon.

The process, codenamed 'Blueprint' was started in mid-1991 by Laurence Cooklin, who was replaced as chief executive less than a year ago by John Hoerner, the plain-speaking American who had been in charge of Debenhams.

The original review focused on the high-street shops. Another 88 stores shut last year, following the closure of 147 outlets in 1991. Mr Hoerner has now widened the review to the 'back office'.

Insiders said that Mr Hoerner believed that if other parts of the company could become as efficient as he had made Debenhams, the group's profitablilty would be enhanced substantially.

In his chief executive's review, which accompanied November's report and accounts, Mr Hoerner identified a number of areas that were underperforming, notably Burton Menswear and Principles, the mid-market clothing chain.

It is expected that Burton will restructure some outlets to concentrate on more successful and growing brands at the expense of some of the more tired names, such as Burton Menswear.

Analysts expect Burton's profits to treble to over pounds 30m this year, although they point out that the group's share of the clothing market is so high that it cannot buck the trend if the retail sector remains depressed.

(Photograph omitted)