Jul 28, 2020
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Britain's Selfridges to axe jobs on virus retail storm

Jul 28, 2020

British department store group Selfridges warned Tuesday that it plans to axe 450 jobs after sales slumped due to the coronavirus and the aftermath of the nationwide lockdown.


Selfridges, whose flagship store is on London's Oxford Street, said in a statement that it will reduce its workforce by 14% as a result of the Covid-19 storm that engulfed much of the sector.

"Like many others, we are feeling the effects and acknowledge that the recovery will be slow, with sales this year forecast to be significantly less than they were in 2019," wrote managing director Anne Pitcher in a message to employees. "It will, without doubt, be the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history," she said, adding that "fundamental" change to the business was required.

The nation's high-street retailers have already been suffering from fierce online competition from the likes of US titan Amazon. Their troubles were compounded by the March 23 lockdown, which shuttered shops nationwide until early June -- and sparked another online sales boom with most customers stranded at home.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has forced change and caused us to rethink so many aspects of our lives," added Pitcher on Tuesday. "How we work, shop and socialise is changing. Of course, our high streets were changing rapidly before Covid-19 arrived.

"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."

The layoffs are the latest to hit Britain's struggling retail sector so far this year, despite government efforts to safeguard employment. Earlier this month, luxury department store Harrods revealed plans to cut 680 jobs and clothing-to-food company Marks & Spencer warned it could axe 950 management and administrative posts.

Pharmacy giant Boots and department store group John Lewis have meanwhile said that they would together axe at least 5,300 jobs.

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