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Marks & Spencer says 950 jobs under threat

Already suffering from fierce online competition, retailer’s troubles worsened by lockdown

By AFP - Jul 20,2020 - Last updated at Jul 20,2020

A pedestrian walks past an M&S (Marks and Spencer) store in central London, on Monday (AFP photo)

LONDON — British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer could axe up to 950 management and administrative jobs to counter slumping profits and sales in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Monday.

The high-street stalwart, which had already been suffering from fierce online competition from the likes of US giant Amazon, has seen its troubles compounded by the COVID-19 lockdown that shuttered shops nationwide.

The enforced closures, which sought to halt the spread of the killer disease, were imposed on March 23 and lasted almost three months for non-essential stores.

M&S had in May revealed that annual net profit slumped by almost 50 per cent, booked a sizeable charge for the coronavirus outbreak, and added it would slash costs.

The company added on Monday that the latest proposed cutbacks were part of its transformation plan.

"M&S is now proposing to implement these changes and create a new retail management structure that is fit for the future — removing role duplication, providing clearer leadership accountabilities and freeing up its retail teams to focus more on the customer," it said in a statement.

"The proposed changes would affect 950 roles across central support functions in field and central operations and property and store management."

In Britain, the coronavirus outbreak, in tandem with a tough retail climate, has sparked the demise of several well-known high-street names and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Earlier this month, pharmacy giant Boots and department store group John Lewis said they would together axe at least 5,300 jobs, despite government efforts to safeguard employment.

Some 9.3 million UK workers have had up to 80 per cent of their wages paid for by the UK government under its furlough scheme, which ends in October.

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