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Coronavirus: River Island axes 350 staff as high street job crisis deepens

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·Finance and policy reporter
·1-min read
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Shoppers walk past a River Island store in north London, UK. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/Sipa USA
Shoppers walk past a River Island store in north London, UK. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

River Island is planning to slash 350 jobs, in the latest of a string of UK retailers to report mass job losses in the wake of the coronavirus.

Store management and senior sales roles will be affected at the high street chain, which has around 300 UK stores, according to an internal memo sent to workers and seen by Yahoo Finance UK.

The company like many fashion retailers has taken a big hit from the pandemic, first with lockdown forcing store closures and then eased restrictions failing to revive UK high streets.

READ MORE: ‘Winners and losers’ in UK retail as pandemic continues to hit sales

Chief executive Will Kernan told staff the reforms would create a “flatter” management structure.

“We need to make sure we have the right structures in place to deliver our omnichannel strategy, and to continue to deliver the amazing River Island in-store experience that our customers know and love,” Kernan reportedly wrote.

“With a heavy heart, I can confirm that these changes will potentially impact up to 350 store management and senior sales roles.

“Whilst this is an incredibly difficult decision, these actions are crucial to ensure that our stores continue to effectively play their hugely important role in our omnichannel future.”

READ MORE: Selfridges axes 450 jobs in ‘toughest year in recent history’

A recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) highlighted a recovery in retail in July, but warned of a stark divide between “winners and losers.”

It said surging grocery, DIY and online sales had benefited some firms, but sales of clothing, footwear, furniture, and goods from department stores remained significantly down.

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