Marks & Spencer is to cut 950 jobs in a retail management shake-up marking the first phase of a major transformation programme.
It comes a day after Sky News first reported that M&S was to begin setting out redundancy plans this week – joining the likes of John Lewis and Boots in taking the axe to its workforce in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Elsewhere on Monday, high street retailer Ted Baker confirmed plans to cut 500 roles – a quarter of its UK staff – while Sky News revealed a planned strategic review of rival Jigsaw which could see it sold and some of its 75 stores shut.
The restructuring announced at M&S forms the start of its “never the same again” programme – launched earlier this year – which sources have said will eventually see thousands of jobs lost.
The company said as it reported annual results in May that “central support costs and headcount will be examined at all levels”.
M&S had already been looking to make changes before the crisis as it sought to turn around its fortunes, and now says it is using “the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis” to “accelerate the pace and ambition of its transformation plan”.
Monday’s announcement reiterated the retailer’s warnings about the challenges it faces.
“The aftershocks of the crisis will endure for the next year and beyond and whilst some consumer habits will return to normal, other have been changed forever,” the company said.
“The trend towards digital has been accelerated and changes to the shape of the high street have been brought forward.”
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The announcement came as figures from data company Springboard showed the return of shoppers to high streets following the lockdown had slowed to a “trickle” last week, with footfall still 40% lower than in the same period last year.
M&S said its latest plans would help move the company to a “leaner, faster retail management structure”.
It said it had begun collective consultation with employee representatives and plans to first offer voluntary redundancy to affected staff.
The cuts will impact roles in its head office, property and store management areas.
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.”
M&S, which employs 78,000 people in the UK, has been seeking to reinvent itself under a succession of turnaround plans over recent years – mainly focused on reinvigorating its beleaguered clothing division.