Debenhams to slash up to 320 store management jobs in cost-cutting drive

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Debenhams is axing up to 320 store management jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive aimed at combatting falling sales.

The retailer said on Thursday that around a quarter of its department store managers would go and that it would roll out a new structure by the end of March.

Debenhams shares crashed 24 per cent in January after it announced disappointing Christmas trading and a cautious outlook for the year ahead.

The 240-year-old department store has become the latest in a string of big-name retailers to announce job cuts or store closures in recent weeks.

Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and B&Q have all laid out plans to cut staff this year amid falling real wages and stiff competition from online and discount retailers.

Debenhams said in a statement on Thursday that it had undertaken a review of its business.which had identified “significant cost savings by reducing the complexity of management roles”.

The company said it would also drive more efficient ways of working. 

“The effect is that potentially 320 positions are at risk of redundancy – approximately 25 per cent of store management roles,” a spokesperson said.

Staff who are affected are being informed and will be offered other jobs where possible, Debenhams said.

Debenhams announced last month that like-for-like sales fell 2.6 per cent in the 17 weeks to 30 December.

As a result of this, it said that – if the current volatile trading environment persists – profit before tax for the full year is likely to be in the range of £55m to £65m.

According to Reuters analysis, forecasters had largely been expecting a figure of around £83m.

Department store rival, Marks & Spencer, announced plans last week to close down 14 stores, plunging 468 jobs into doubt.

Earlier in January, Britain’s biggest retailer, Tesco, said it would slash 1,700 management jobs at its large stores.

 


Sainsbury’s also announced its own shake-up last month, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

“UK retailers are facing a number of challenges, said Neil Mason, Head of Retail Research at Mintel.

Costs are rising thanks to increases in the national minimum wage and business rates, and the higher cost of goods due to the fall in the value of sterling since the EU referendum vote, he said.

“All these factors are squeezing retailer profit margins.

“As retailers are reluctant to increase prices, they are having to rethink how they can cut costs and become more efficient.

“In addition, as the online market continues to grow, retailers are increasingly focusing on their online operations to offer customers different options depending on how they prefer to shop.”