Companies

Marks & Spencer to cut 7,000 jobs as clothing arm suffers

Bloomberg August 18 | Updated on August 18, 2020

The lockdowns have hit the retail major’s sales hard   -  REUTERS

Sales in the clothing and home arm fell 39% in the latest 13 weeks

Marks & Spencer Group Plc plans to cut about 7,000 jobs over the next three months after its clothing business was hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown, adding to the toll of lost employment in the UK retail industry.

Sales in the clothing and home arm fell 39 per cent in the latest 13 weeks and have remained weak since stores reopened over the summer, the company said Tuesday in a statement. A 2.5 per cent gain in food sales failed to offset the impact, and uncertainty over the course of the pandemic and social distancing measures clouds future prospects, it said.

The mainstay of the UK’s downtown shopping districts was already suffering from competition with online retailers and a shift toward fast-fashion retailers, and has embarked on a series of restructurings.

The UK suffered the biggest contraction of any major economy during the lockdown, with a 20.4 per cent decline in output during the second quarter. Despite a rebound in June, consumer sentiment remains fragile and retailers have been paring jobs at a growing rate. Debenhams Plc, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc’s drugstores and John Lewis Partnership Plc, owner of the grocer Waitrose, are among others that have announced cuts.

Thousands of additional workers have been furloughed, but the government is under pressure to phase out support despite concerns about the near-term economic effect.

M&S said it expects some of the job cuts to occur through attrition and early retirement and also plans to add an unspecified number of new positions. As with other retailers, the company’s online operations have received a boost since the lockdowns began.

The retailer said in July that it planned to cut about 950 jobs from its total of 78,000.

Published on August 18, 2020

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