Marks & Spencer to axe 7,000 jobs on virus fallout

A Marks & Spencer store in London. The job cuts are not expected to impact M&S' Singapore operations, which are under the umbrella of Dubai-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim Group.
A Marks & Spencer store in London. The job cuts are not expected to impact M&S' Singapore operations, which are under the umbrella of Dubai-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim Group.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Marks & Spencer, the British retail chain selling clothes and food, is to cut around 7,000 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic increasingly pushes customers to shop online, it said yesterday.

The job cuts, to be carried out over the next three months, include losses from its central support centre, in regional management and in its UK stores, it said in a statement.

M&S employs more than 80,000 staff, of whom the vast majority work in Britain. Chief executive Steve Rowe said the company would become a "leaner, faster business set up to serve changing customer needs".

Alongside the job cuts, M&S expects to create a number of positions to help the group meet a surge in online demand for its products.

While total group sales slumped by around one fifth in the 19 weeks to Aug 8 - which included most of the period Britain was in lockdown - online revenue surged nearly 40 per cent, M&S said yesterday.

The company joins the likes of British department store chains Debenhams and John Lewis, as well as pharmacy group Boots, in cutting thousands of jobs owing to fallout from Covid-19.

The cuts are not expected to impact M&S' Singapore operations, which are under the umbrella of Dubai-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim Group. M&S has 10 retail stores and food halls in Singapore.

When The Straits Times contacted the brand, it declined to comment on its Singapore business.

Official data last week showed that Britain's economy shrank by one fifth in the second quarter, more than any European neighbour, as the lockdown plunged the country into its deepest recession on record.

Even though the British economy is beginning to rebound as the government eases strict confinement measures - gross domestic product grew by 8.7 per cent in June - analysts expect a surge in unemployment by the end of the year, with an aid scheme set to end in October.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Additional reporting by Tiffany Fumiko Tay

 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2020, with the headline 'Marks & Spencer to axe 7,000 jobs on virus fallout'. Subscribe