Marks and Spencer announces 950 jobs 'at risk' due to coronavirus impact

20 July 2020, 11:38

Marks and Spencer is expected to announce job losses in the next few days
Marks and Spencer is expected to announce job losses in the next few days. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Marks & Spencer has said 950 jobs are at risk as part of plans to reduce store management and head office roles.

The announcement comes after the high street giant was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marks & Spencer saw its share price fall after reports on Monday morning speculated at hundreds of job losses.

Shares in the company dropped by 1.7% to 97.1p.

Sacha Berendji, director of retail, operations and property at M&S, said: "Our proposals reflect an important next step in our Never The Same Again programme to accelerate our transformation and become a stronger, leaner and more resilient business.

"Through the crisis we have seen how we can work faster and more flexibly by empowering store teams and it's essential that we embed that way of working.

"Our priority now is to support all those affected through the consultation process and beyond."

The announcement comes at a difficult time for the British high street, with almost 10,000 job losses being announced in one day earlier this month.

John Lewis recently announced 1,300 job losses, with Boots announcing 4,000 job losses and store closures in the following weeks.

Companies including Topshop owner Arcadia, furniture chain Harveys and menswear retailer TM Lewin have also confirmed plans for thousands of redundancies.

The retailer has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic
The retailer has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

Throughout the pandemic, M&S’s food shops remained open but trading was severely disrupted in other parts of the business with clothing sales down by 84% year on year at the lowest point, the company said in May.

At the onset of the coronavirus crisis it said it was considering other cost savings including a “more streamlined support centre, changes to leadership structure and negotiations with landlords on commercial terms on lease contracts”.

M&S also said it was also reviewing central support costs and the number of employees at all levels, as well as giving in-store staff more responsibilities.

The retailer furloughed approximately 27,000 of its 78,000 employees during the lockdown.

It will make the retailer the latest chain to have taken taxpayers' money through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, only to subsequently announce significant numbers of redundancies.

M&S has also yet to indicate whether it will reject the chancellor's recent offer of a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed employee who resumes working.

Many of M&S's furloughed employees have now returned to work, but the chief executive Steve Rowe warned of permanent changes to shopping habits.

He said: “While some customer habits will return to normal, others have changed for ever. The trend towards digital has been accelerated and changes to the shape of the high street brought forward.

"Most importantly, working habits have been transformed and we have discovered we can work in a faster, leaner and more effective way.

"I am determined to act now to capture this and deliver a renewed, more agile business in a world that will never be the same again."

Separately, M&S announced in 2018 its plans to close between 110 and 120 of its full-line clothing stores, more than half of which have now been shut.It now has just under 300 clothing and home shops in the UK.