LONDON – Marks & Spencer will be axing 7,000 jobs over the next three months in the United Kingdom as part of a strategy “to further streamline the business both at stores and management level” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the London-based retailer announced on Tuesday.
“We are today embarking on a multi-level consultation programme which we anticipate will result in a reduction of c. (circa) 7,000 roles over the next 3 months,” Sputnik news agency quoted the the company as saying in a statement.
The major retail chain claimed its total revenue was down 38.5 per cent in the last 13 weeks, while store sales were down 47.9 per cent since stores were allowed to reopen in June, following the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“The streamlining programme is an important step in delivering on our cost savings programme and ensuring we emerge from the crisis with a lower cost base and a stronger more resilient business,” it added.
According to Marks & Spencer, a significant proportion of the redundancies will be through voluntary departures and early retirement of employees working in its central support centre, regional managements and stores across the UK.
“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’s CEO Steve Rowe said.
The Office for National Statistics’ latest report said UK employment dropped by 220,000 between April and June, as a result of the economic crisis prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News has estimated that Marks & Spencer’s announcement brings the number of cuts among major retailers in the United Kingdom to over 30,000 as this sector has suffered the highest total impact of the pandemic across the UK economy.