Selfridges is to cut 450 jobs across its department stores, in the latest blow to UK high street retailers hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The cuts represent 14% of its workforce and Anne Pitcher, group managing director of the luxury department store chain, said it was the “toughest decision we have ever had to take”.
The “speed and magnitude” of the health crisis, which has caused a sea change in consumer behaviour, meant Selfridges had to make some fundamental changes to the shape of the organisation, Pitcher said of the group, which operates four shops in the UK including its London flagship on Oxford Street.
The move follows 700 job losses at upmarket rival Harrods which were announced earlier this month. At the time the Harrods chief executive, Michael Ward, blamed the cuts on social distancing and a lack of tourists visiting the UK.
Pitcher said 2020 looked set to be the “toughest year” in the recent history of the 114-year-old business. “Like many others, we are feeling the effects and acknowledge that recovery will be slow, with sales this year forecast to be significantly less than they were in 2019,” she said. “It will, without doubt, be the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history.”
The retailer said it had begun a consultation period with staff during which those who wished to be considered for voluntary redundancy could come forward. Other options on offer include reducing working hours or taking a career break.