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M&S to cut 950 jobs as it steps up pace of digital-first transition

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M&S is to cut 950 jobs as it steps up the pace of its transition towards becoming a digital-first business, following a Covid-19 lockdown in which customers have quickly moved to do more of their shopping online. 

The retailer says it will empower its store staff as it looks to make three years progress in just one, and that will mean redundancies in central support functions including operations and property and store management. 

As a result of the change, it says that it will create a new retail management structure that frees up staff to focus on the customer, while removing role duplication and making leaders more accountable. M&S is currently talking to its employee representatives and will offer voluntary redundancy to those staff affected.

Sacha Berendji, director of retail, operations and property at M&S, said: “Our proposals reflect an important next step in our Never the Same Again programme to accelerate our transformation and become a stronger, leaner and more resilient business. Through the crisis we have seen how we can work faster and more flexibly by empowering store teams and it’s essential that we embed that way of working. Our priority now is to support all those affected through the consultation process and beyond.”

Redundancies in context

In June, M&S chief executive Steve Rowe warned that shopping would never be the same again following the Covid-19 lockdown. Then, he said that the retailer had discovered it could work in a “faster, leaner, more effective way” – and that it would now work towards becoming “a renewed, more agile business in a world that will never be the same again”. The Covid crisis, he said, had accelerated the trend towards digital and brought forward changes to the shape of the high streets – and launched the Never the Same Again programme to learn from that. 

He was speaking as the retailer posted full-year results showing group revenue of £10.2bn for the year to March 28, down by 1.9% on the previous year. Bottom line pre-tax profits of £67.2m were down by 20.2%. During Covid-19, the retailer said its food business had stayed resilient but its clothing and home sales fell at one point to 16% of their level a year earlier.

From there, M&S has started to work on the assumption that UK and international home and clothing sales would decline by 70% for the four months to July, while food sales would decline by 20% over the period before returning to previously expected levels during the remainder of the year.

M&S is an Elite retailer in RXUK Top500 research. Today’s news comes as Ted Baker has confirmed it will make at least 500 redundancies through its ongoing transformation plan, and shortly after retailers including Boots and John Lewis have also announced thousands of redundancies, alongside store closures. 

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