Marks & Spencer to cut 950 jobs in wake of COVID-19

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A Marks and Spencer store in Shrewsbury, England. The retailer has seen its share price fall after reports that the high street giant is to axe hundreds of jobs.

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) has announced plans to cut 950 jobs, blaming a sharp downturn in business driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The retailer said on Monday 950 jobs were at risk as part of plans to reduce store management and head office roles. M&S employs 78,000 people across the UK. 27,000 were furloughed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Sacha Berendji, director of retail, operations and property at M&S, said in a statement.

“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.”

Sky News first reported M&S planned to cut jobs earlier on Monday, without giving an exact figure on the scale of the expected cut. The retailer’s stock fell over 2% following the report.

Chart: Yahoo Finance

M&S said headcount “will be examined at all levels” in its full-year results in May. It came as the retailer announced a 21% fall annual profits and chief executive Steve Rowe said he was working to “secure the future of the business.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Marks & Spencer profits sink 21% as stores shut and clothing sales drop

Rowe said shopping habits had “changed forever” and M&S dubbed its COVID-19 recovery plan “Never the Same Again.”

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said on Monday: “We know that this will be worrying news for M&S employees and their families and we stand ready to support them.”

Retailers have taken a heavy hit from months of lockdown and footfall on UK high streets remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels despite the easing of restrictions. Debenhams, John Lewis, and Boots are just some of the other high street names to have announced widespread job cuts across their businesses.