Jul 14, 2021
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John Lewis to cull 1,000 jobs in latest move to cut costs

Jul 14, 2021

Retail giant John Lewis Partnership is planning to cut as many as 1,000 jobs as it shakes up store management at its John Lewis department stores chain and it's Waitrose supermarkets. 

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Although not as large as the number of job losses at some other big retail chains, the news comes not that long after as many as 1,500 jobs were put at risk by the closure of eight department stores by the firm earlier this year.

John Lewis has seen its profits hit hard and its shops becoming less important to the overall business as its online operations have expanded fast in recent years. With the impact of the pandemic added in, the situation has been exacerbated and the company has been urgently looking at cutting costs across the business.

The retailer is aiming to avoid compulsory redundancies and said it would help any staff affected find new roles, while also stressing that the latest raft of job losses will allow it to invest in the areas that are important to its customers.

As part of this, it's investing in customer service roles, which is perhaps important given the discussion there has been around John Lewis’s customer service being less impressive than it was a few years ago. It will also pump more money into visual merchandising to help make its stores more appealing and create more of a compelling reason for consumers to shop in those stores rather than online.

It hasn't specified exactly which jobs will go, but it has said that it wants to reduce the number of layers between its leadership team and its staff on the shopfloor.

John Lewis currently operates 34 Department stores and 331 supermarkets in the UK.

Analysts see the news as part of a wider trend that’s affecting all retailers at present. Sean Moran, restructuring and insolvency partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: “There is no denying that the pandemic was, and continues to be, a catalyst for drastically altering shopper habits and many flagship brands are reacting accordingly. The John Lewis Partnership’s decision to simplify management structures, focus on customer service and invest in its existing store portfolio is more evidence of this.

“While there’s been no mention of further store closures this time around, with a greater focus on e-commerce it’s clear this is something the Partnership presumably cannot rule out as they advance their shift from bricks-and-mortar retail to online. Despite the positive spin that this latest restructuring will allow ‘reinvestment for customers’, it is likely to mean the John Lewis Partnership now has a potentially tricky redundancy process on its hands.”

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