John Lewis and Waitrose stores facing the loss of 1,000 jobs

'For the Partnership to remain competitive and attract customers, we must continue to adapt'

John Lewis Partnership is considering 1,000 job cuts as it continues its efforts to save costs.

The employee-owned business, which operates John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, said: “If confirmed, the proposals would result in around 1,000 roles being made redundant (as we have 331 Waitrose and 34 JL shops, on average this would be a reduction of about 2.7 roles per JL and Waitrose shop).”

Staff are being consulted about the process. which is the latest phase in its five-year turnaround which calls for a reduction in costs by £300m per year by 2022. In March this year, it warned of store closures after announcing a £517m loss.

A Partnership spokesperson said: We have announced to our partners our intention to simplify our management structures in Waitrose and John Lewis stores, which will allow us to reinvest in what matters most to our customers.” 

The Partnership added: “Retailing is a competitive sector that’s changing fast. For the Partnership to remain competitive and attract customers, we must continue to adapt as laid out in our Partnership Plan.”

This includes simplifying management structures in Waitrose and John Lewis so the business can “reinvest back into the things that matter most to the experiences of our customers, in areas like frontline customer service and visual merchandising to make our shops look their best to entice customers.” 

It adds: “By reducing the number of layers between our most senior leaders and non-management Partners, this would empower our front line Partners to deliver what’s best for our customers. Within Waitrose, many of the managerial posts that we lose will be replaced by non-management partners.”

The Partnership says it also is investing around £800m this year to fund growth, through head office transformation, operational restructuring and efficiencies.

Efforts are being made to reduce compulsory redundancies by offering affected staff other roles in the business, and exploring options such as voluntary redundancy, it added.

It says outplacement support and access to a retraining fund will be offered to those who do leave. The retraining fund contributes up to £3,000 towards a recognised qualification or course for up to two years for any partner with two years’ service or more.

The news follows a tough period for the retailer, which has been hit by changing shopping habits and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is not the only department store business to struggle, with Debenhams going into liquidation and closing its last stores in May.

Independent retail co-operatives Heart of England and Tamworth have recently closed their department stores, while in its latest annual report Chelmsford Star has reported  £4.8m in exceptional costs from its Quadrant department stores.

Related: 2015 News analysis on the slow decline of the co-op department store

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