Jobs slashed across the High Street

John Lewis Partnership, Arcadia Group and Harrods are the latest to reveal significant job cuts in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

John Lewis did not disclose exactly how many staff will be made redundant, but a 'rightsizing' strategy will include a reduction in the number of stores across its estate and could also include the smaller of its two head office buildings in London.

"The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now and we have shared this with our partners," read a statement. "As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores, however, no decision has been made and any details would be shared with partners first by the middle of July."

It follows a warning from the company in March that it could close shops, as falling profits forced it to cut staff bonuses to their lowest level in almost 70 years.

Harrods announced that it is cutting around 680 jobs, in part due to the impact of a lower number of international visitors being able to shop at its flagship store.

Managing director Michael Ward said up to 14 per cent of its workforce of 4,800 people would have to go. "With a heavy heart, today I need to confirm that due to the ongoing impacts of this pandemic, we as a business will need to make reductions to our workforce."

He said it would take a "drastic improvement in external conditions" for Harrods to recover and return to growth. "The necessary social distancing requirement to protect employees and customers is having a huge impact on our ability to trade, while the devastation in international travel has meant we have lost key customers coming to our store and frontline operations," Ward added.

Philip Green's Arcadia retail empire - which includes TopShop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge - stated that 500 of its 2,500 head office workforce would be cut.

"Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our business including the closure for over three months of all our stores and head offices, we have today informed staff of the need to restructure our head offices," the company said.

Yesterday, around 600 workers were told they would lose their jobs after shirtmaker TM Lewin announced its administration and closure of all 66 of its UK shops.

Data collected by the Centre for Retail Research recently revealed that 2,123 stores operated by 38 large and medium-sized retailers fell into administration in the first six months of this year - which employed 49,200 staff.

Some 2,051 stores operated by 43 such retailers - with 45,500 employees - went into administration in the whole of 2019.

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