Marks & Spencer to cut 7,000 jobs

Clothes and homeware sales plummet due to pandemic, as high street chain says many stores still affected by social distancing and reduced footfall

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 18 August 2020 10:00 BST
Around 7,000 jobs to be axed in further M&S overhaul

Marks & Spencer has said it will cut 7,000 jobs in the next three months due to the impact of coronavirus.

The high street chain said cuts will hit workers at stores across the UK, as well as in regional management and at its central support centre.

In the two-month period since shops reopened as lockdown measures eased, total sales have been down 29.9 per cent, the company said, with some town centre stores and shopping centres remaining “heavily impacted by social distancing and reduced footfall”.

The retailer said it had seen a marked shift to online shopping, with 41 per cent of home and clothing sales made on the internet over the past eight weeks.

But the closure of many other workplaces combined with a lack of social gatherings meant clothing sales have seen a substantial shift from office dressing and formal wear into casual clothing and leisure wear, the firm noted.

The FTSE 250 firm said it hoped a large proportion of the job losses would come as voluntary redundancies and early retirements.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “In May we outlined our plans to learn from the crisis, accelerate our transformation and deliver a stronger, more agile business in a world in which some customer habits were changed forever. Three months on and our ‘never the same again’ programme is progressing, albeit the outlook is uncertain and we remain cautious.

“As part of our programme to embed the positive changes in ways of working through the crisis, we are today announcing proposals to further streamline store operations and management structures. These proposals are an important step in becoming a leaner, faster business, set up to serve changing customer needs, and we are committed to supporting colleagues through this time.”

The company also said it hoped to create a number of new jobs as it shakes up its business.

It said these will be in online fulfilment and in a new ambient food warehouse.

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