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John Lewis and Waitrose could cut up to 1,000 store jobs

·2-min read
People seen outside John Lewis & Partners, a brand of high-end department stores in London. (Photo by May James / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
John Lewis is looking to simplify its management structures. Photo: PA

A new proposal by the John Lewis Partnership could see it cut around 1,000 roles across its department stores as well as Waitrose shops.

The company is the UK’s largest employee-owned business and refers to employees as partners.

A spokesperson for the company told Yahoo Finance UK: “We have announced to our partners our intention to simplify our management structures in Waitrose and John Lewis stores, which will allow us to reinvest in what matters most to our customers.”

The business is looking to simplify its management structures in Waitrose and John Lewis and hopes it can then reinvest back into areas such as frontline customer service and visual merchandising to attract more consumers.

If confirmed, the proposals would result in about 1,000 roles being made redundant across all 331 Waitrose and 34 John Lewis stores around the country.

"John Lewis & Partners needs to be transparent. It needs to tell its employees as soon as possible which jobs are saved and which are not," especially amid the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, Kevin Mountford, co-founder of savings provider Raisin UK, told Yahoo Finance UK. 

"With the shift from physical stores to online, again, retail shops need to learn how to adapt and focus on return on investment instead of closing stores," he added.

Read more: John Lewis faces fee backlash as brands reconsider their stock

"This brand is 117 years old, it has probably seen the change in high-street shopping, and it needs to keep up with it before it goes altogether. Yes, trends in shopping are changing, but internally John Lewis and Waitrose need to plan more strategically."

The company has said it will support staff who wish to stay in the business to find new roles, and is trying minimise compulsory redundancies through options such as voluntary redundancy and voluntary severance.

Employees who are made redundant will be offered outplacement support and access to a retraining fund. The fund contributes up to £3,000 ($4,165) towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any worker if they have at least two years’ service.

John Lewis's five-year Partnership Plan, announced last year, requires it to reduce costs by £300m a year by 2022 and return to “sustainable profits by 2025”.

It said it was going to cut 1,500 jobs at its head office between November 2020 and April 2021 as part of the same plan.

The pandemic has hit the retail sector hard. In March John Lewis said it was not planning to reopen eight of its 42 John Lewis shops from lockdown, adding to eight closures last year.

Last month, the business faced a backlash from brands, who are claiming the fees charged to stock their products are "ridiculous".

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