John Lewis Plans to Cut 1,000 Jobs as UK Retail Woes Worsen

John Lewis Plans to Cut 1,000 Jobs as UK Retail Woes Worsen

John Lewis, Oxford Street. Shutterstock.

John Lewis Partnership intends to cut another 1,000 roles as part of a wide-ranging restructuring in yet another blow to Britain’s beleaguered retail industry.

The employee-owned retailer said jobs at risk will be a variety of management roles in both John Lewis department stores and Waitrose grocery outlets. The retailer said its proposals would reduce the number of layers between workers in stores and senior leaders and “allow us to reinvest in what matters most to our customers.”

The partnership has 331 Waitrose supermarkets and 34 John Lewis stores. There will be an average reduction of 2.7 roles per shop if the proposals are confirmed.

The latest job cuts come only a few months after the partnership said it was closing eight John Lewis stores and reported its first-ever annual loss after being forced to halve the value of John Lewis stores as lockdowns accelerated a shift to e-commerce.

Long known as the reliable choice for middle-class Britons, John Lewis has been undergoing a wrenching turnaround under Chairman Sharon White. The former telecommunications regulator, who joined the partnership last year, aims to cut annual costs by 300 million pounds ($412 million) by next year and return the company to profit by 2025. Her strategy involves investing in the digital business and pursuing new revenue streams, such as expanding further into financial services and converting excess space into private rented housing.

White has already eliminated more than 4,000 positions from the business, which is co-owned by more than 80,000 “partners,” since she took over. She has also canceled annual bonuses for the first time in more than 70 years.

By Deirdre Hipwell

Further Reading: The Retail Workforce of the Future

The pandemic has driven retailers to convert parts of their stores into warehouses, call centres and even television studios, transforming the role played by sales associates.

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