By Tony Winterburn • 28 July 2020 • 11:50
Selfridges to axe 450 jobs as sales hammered by the pandemic.
Slow recovery expected
The managing director of the department store chain has said the move is the “toughest decision we have ever had to take”.
The upmarket retailer said it will reduce its total headcount by 14% to cope with the impact of the virus and subsequent lockdown. In a message to staff, group managing director Anne Pitcher warned the recovery will be “slow”, stressing 2020 will be “the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history”.
Managing director Anne Pitcher said high streets were changing even before COVID-19 and the upmarket retailer has now been forced to make “fundamental changes”. Selfridges shuttered its Birmingham store in mid-March, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown in a historic address to the nation.
Creating a more sustainable future
In an email to Selfridges staff, Ms Pitcher said: “How we work, shop and socialise is changing. Of course, our high streets were changing rapidly before Covid-19 arrived.
“As a creative business at the forefront of retail, we have a proud history of leading the way, however, the speed and magnitude of what is happening right now and the impact on trading means we must make some more fundamental changes to our organisation to stay ahead and realise a more sustainable future.
“Like many others, we are feeling the effects and acknowledge that recovery will be slow, with sales this year forecast to be significantly less than they were in 2019. “It will, without doubt, be the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history.
“As a family business, the hardest decisions are the ones that affect our people, which is why it pains me to share news today of the toughest decision we have ever had to take that we will, very regrettably, need to make a 14% net reduction in our overall headcount, approximately 450 roles.”
High street job losses continue to rise
Worryingly, it is far from the only high-profile store reducing worker counts, with job losses everywhere from M&S to Boots and John Lewis. Other companies cutting jobs in the wake of the coronavirus crisis include TM Lewin, which has axed 600 jobs, and Harrods, which has cut 700 workers.
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