Marks & Spencer is set to slash 7,000 jobs over the next three months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a trading update to the London Stock Exchange, it said while the group had performed ahead of its 12-month COVID-19 recovery scenario it announced last year, at this stage there was still uncertainty around market conditions and the duration of social distancing measures, so it was remaining cautious.
Marks & Spencer, which has a Simply Food store in Penrith, said while food sales have increased 2.5 per cent in the last 13 weeks, total sales in its clothing and home arm dropped 29.9 per cent in the eight weeks since shops reopened, with store sales falling 47.9 per cent and online was up 39.2 per cent.
The udate added; “It is clear that there has been a material shift in trade and while it is too early to predict with precision where a new post Covid sales mix will settle, we must act now to reflect this change.
“As a result we are today embarking on a multi-level consultation programme which we anticipate will result in a reduction of around 7,000 roles over the next three months. These will include departures in our central support centre, in regional management, and in our UK stores, reflecting the fact that the change has been felt throughout the business.
“We expect a significant proportion will be through voluntary departures and early retirement.”
It is not known how many roles at Penrith’s Simply Food store will be affected.
Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “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.”