Debenhams to cut 2,500 more jobs amid pandemic

UK
Debenhams store Image copyright AFP

Struggling department store group Debenhams says it will cut 2,500 more jobs as it struggles to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

This is on top of the 4,000 announced since May, meaning the retailer will have cut a third of its workforce.

The cuts will be mainly across its UK stores and distribution centre, but it said no new shops were slated to shut.

Shop workers’ union Usdaw reacted angrily to the news, saying legal procedures had not been followed.

By law, mass redundancies have to be subject to a consultation period. Usdaw said it was preparing a legal challenge on behalf of members affected.

“We have been contacted by members who say they are being made redundant by conference call, with no meaningful consultation or proper notice period, as required by law,” said union national officer Dave Gill.

“That is an appalling way to treat staff.”

Debenhams declined to comment on Usdaw’s statement.

‘Difficult decisions’

In April, Debenhams fell into administration for the second time in a year as coronavirus heaped pressure on the business.

The firm said the current trading environment for retailers was still “a long way from returning to normal”.

How have you been affected by job losses at Debenhams? Tell us about your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Earlier this year, it said 20 of its stores would remain permanently closed because of the impact of the pandemic.

Debenhams said on Tuesday: “Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.

“We have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations,” it added.

The chain said that people affected had been informed and thanked them for their “service and commitment”.

“We have successfully reopened 124 stores post-lockdown, and these are currently trading ahead of management expectations,” it said.

Retail redundancies

Debenhams could remain in administration for the rest of this year, as lenders wait to see how it performs post-lockdown and in the crucial Christmas trading period.

Like many of its competitors, the retailer was already ailing before the pandemic forced it to suspend trading at its department stores.

The news of the latest job cuts came after the British Retail Consortium said the number of visits to High Streets was still down significantly as people shopped online instead.

The BRC said some retailers were continuing to struggle because of the coronavirus crisis. It made a fresh call for government help with rents.

Other High Street names have also announced job losses as they fight to stay afloat.

Last week, WH Smith said it was cutting 1,500 jobs – 11% of its workforce – after the lockdown caused sales to plummet.

DW Sports, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Boots and Selfridges are among other big names to announce redundancies.

Image copyright Matthew Horwood

It’s less than two weeks into August and at least another 10,000 jobs jobs have been lost as the furlough scheme starts to wind down.

Here, courtesy of the Press Association news agency, is a list of some major employers that have announced that jobs will be lost, or are at risk, since the start of the pandemic.

August 11: Debenhams – 2,500

August 7: Evening Standard – 115

August 6: Travelex – 1,300

August 6: Wetherspoons – 110 to 130

August 5: M&Co – 380

August 5: WH Smith – 1,500

August 4: Dixons Carphone – 800

August 4: Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk

August 3: Hays Travel – up to 878

August 3: DW Sports – 1,700 at risk

July 31: Byron – 651

July 30: Pendragon – 1,800

July 29: Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles

July 28: Selfridges – 450

July 27: Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk

July 23: Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas

July 22: Mears – fewer than 200

July 20: Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk

July 17: Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200

July 16: Genting – 1,642 at risk

July 16: Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas

July 15: Banks Mining – 250 at risk

July 15: Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk

July 14: Vertu – 345

July 14: DFS – up to 200 at risk

July 9: General Electric – 369

July 9: Eurostar – unknown number

July 9: Boots – 4,000

July 9: John Lewis – 1,300 at risk

July 9: Burger King – 1,600 at risk

July 7: Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550

July 6: Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk

July 2: Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909

July 1: SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk

July 1: Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500

July 1: Harrods – 700

July 1: Virgin Money – 300

June 30: Airbus – 1,700

June 30: TM Lewin – 600

June 30: Smiths Group – “some job losses”

June 25: Royal Mail – 2,000

June 24: Jet2 – 102

June 24: Swissport – 4,556

June 24: Crest Nicholson – 130

June 23: Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office

June 19: Aer Lingus – 500

June 17: HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide

June 15: Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100

June 15: Travis Perkins – 2,500

June 12: Le Pain Quotidien – 200

June 11: Heathrow – at least 500

June 11: Bombardier – 600

June 11: Johnson Matthey – 2,500

June 11: Centrica – 5,000

June 10: Quiz – 93

June 10: The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000

June 10: Monsoon Accessorise – 545

June 10: Everest Windows – 188

June 8: BP – 10,000 worldwide

June 8: Mulberry – 375

June 5: Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk

June 5: Bentley – 1,000

June 4: Aston Martin – 500

June 4: Lookers – 1,500

May 29: Belfast International Airport – 45

May 28: Debenhams (in second announcement) – “hundreds” of jobs

May 28: EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide

May 26: McLaren – 1,200

May 22: Carluccio’s – 1,000

May 21: Clarks – 900

May 20: Rolls-Royce – 9,000

May 20: Bovis Homes – unknown number

May 19: Ovo Energy – 2,600

May 19: Antler – 164

May 15: JCB – 950 at risk

May 13: Tui – 8,000 worldwide

May 12: Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450

May 11: P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide

May 5: Virgin Atlantic – 3,150

May 1: Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide

April 30: Oasis Warehouse – 1,800

April 29: WPP – unknown number

April 28: British Airways – up to 12,000

April 23: Safran Seats – 400

April 23: Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide

April 21: Cath Kidston – 900

April 17: Debenhams – 422

March 31: Laura Ashley – 268

March 30: BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk

March 27: Chiquito – 1,500 at risk.