News

Coronavirus: John Lewis and Boots to cut 5,300 jobs

Coronavirus: John Lewis and Boots to cut 5,300 jobs
Business
It has not yet said which outlets will close, but about 7% of its workforce will lose their jobs.

John Lewis said department stores in Birmingham and Watford will not reopen as the coronavirus lockdown eases. It also plans to shut down its At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and travel sites at Heathrow airport and London St Pancras.

Mr Sunak unveiled a series of measures on Wednesday aimed at saving jobs, including a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for every furloughed employee retained to the end of January 2021.

He also announced measures to benefit the hospitality sector, including .

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the moves to support restaurants, pubs and cafes could also help retail.

"We very much hope that when people go to their local pub or their restaurant to eat out, those are often in the centre of towns, hopefully that will encourage the footfall to those areas so we get more people going to our shops as well," Mr Dowden said, speaking after announcing the reopening of gyms, indoor pools and outdoor theatres.

John Lewis says some of its stores were in trouble before the virus struck, while Boots already had plans for a shake-up.

The crisis has forced them to speed up efforts to deal with the rise of internet shopping.

And just now they face the phasing out of the government-supported furlough scheme, starting next month.

One by one, retailers are revealing how many staff they will bring back into stores as the job subsidy is withdrawn.

Most Boots outlets remained open throughout the lockdown to provide pharmacy and healthcare services, but the firm said footfall had "dramatically reduced".

The firm said sales across all Boots UK outlets were down 50% in the third quarter, and some 70% at Boots Opticians.

"Restrictions are beginning to lift, but with an uncertain economic outlook, it is anticipated that the High Street will take considerable time to recover," it said.

The managing director of Boots UK, Sebastian James, described the latest cuts as "decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan".

John Lewis said the eight stores affected were already "financially challenged" even before the pandemic struck.

However, Covid-19 had caused customers to move more quickly towards online shopping and away from stores.

John Lewis Partnership chairwoman Sharon White said: "Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners.

"However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership - and continue to meet the needs of our customers, however and wherever they want to shop."

Ms White said John Lewis would do everything it could to keep on as many people as possible.

as a plunge in profits forced it to cut staff bonuses to their lowest level in almost 70 years.

Former John Lewis boss Andy Street, now mayor of the West Midlands, said the closure of the chain s flagship Birmingham store was "deeply disappointing".

"At this stage the closure is only a proposal, and one which I believe risks being a dreadful mistake," he tweeted .

He added that his belief in its potential was "unwavering" and that he would be making the case for it to stay open.

The planned closure of John Lewis s Watford store has prompted , which has been signed by 4,400 people so far.

Other John Lewis customers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.

Report

John Lewis and Boots are the latest in a long line of companies to have made cuts during the pandemic. Other lay-offs announced include:

Unions and analysts have warned that the virus could mean millions of people end up out of work, warning that government incentives to save jobs were not large enough to persuade bosses to keep workers.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: "With no modification to the jobs retention scheme, that dreaded October cliff-edge for businesses and workers has now been set in stone.

"Our fear is the summer jobs loss tsunami we have been pleading with the government to avoid will now surely only gather pace."

Vivienne King, chief executive at Revo, which represents the retail property sector, warned that three million retail jobs remained in jeopardy unless the government undertook "a fundamental review of business rates and direct financial support to underwrite rents".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak himself told BBC Breakfast: "Is unemployment going to rise, are people going to lose their jobs? Yes, and the scale of this is significant.

"We are entering one of the most severe recessions this country has ever seen. That is of course going to have a significant impact on unemployment and on job losses."

Lucy Powell, shadow minister for business and consumers, said the job cuts were "deeply worrying news for staff at John Lewis and Boots" and described Mr Sunak s statement as "a missed opportunity to protect jobs with properly targeted support for the businesses and people that need it".

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
Read more on bbc.com
News Topics :
RELATED STORIES :
Business
One of the UK s biggest gym companies has said it lost about a fifth of its members during lockdown, despite halting membership payments. The Gym Group said it had...
Business
The firm said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak meant it expected to report a loss of £70 75m for the year to the end of August. WH Smith is the...
Business
Retailers have had to introduce strict safety measures and the High Street experience will be very different to what shoppers are used to. Amid fears about the health of the...
Business
Property website Rightmove and catering giant Compass have said they will reject the offer of millions of pounds in payouts from the government s job retention bonus scheme. They follow...
Business
Since March, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has paid 80 of the wages of workers placed on leave, up to a maximum of £2, 500 a month. But now that is...