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COVID-19: Marks & Spencer to cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months

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A shopper wearing a facemask as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus crosses the road in front of a branch of the clothing and food retailer Marks and Spencer in central London on August 18, 2020. – Marks and Spencer, the British retail chain selling clothes and food, is to cut around 7,000 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic increasingly pushes customers to shop online, it said August 18. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

One of the largest British retail clothing companies, Marks & Spencer, will cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months across its stores and management due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
In a statement put out by the company, it said, “We expect a significant number will be through voluntary departures and early retirement. In line with our longstanding value of treating our people well, we will now begin an extensive programme of communication with colleagues. 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.”
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Chief Executive Steve Rowe added, “In May, we outlined our plans to learn from the crisis, accelerate our transformation and deliver a stronger, more agile business in a world in which some customer habits were changed forever. Three months on and our Never the Same Again programme is progressing; albeit the outlook is uncertain and we remain cautious. As part of our Never The Same Again programme to embed the positive changes in ways of working through the crisis, we are today announcing proposals to further streamline store operations and management structures. 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 said total sales in its hard-hit clothing and home arm plunged 29.9 percent in the eight weeks since shops reopened, with store sales tumbling 47.9 percent and online surging 39.2 percent.

According to the report, overall group sales over the coronavirus period are down 19.2 percent, although online and food have performed. “Clothing and home trading in the stores remains well below last year, with online and home delivery strong. It is clear that there has been a material shift in trade and whilst it is too early to predict with precision where a new post COVID-19 sales mix will settle, we must act now to reflect this change.”

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