The worker-owned John Lewis Partnership is considering cutting up to 11,000 staff jobs in the next five years and has reduced its redundancy terms, according to a report in the Guardian.
The report quotes sources saying that at least 10% of the 76,000-strong workforce could go across the Partnership’s head office, Waitrose supermarkets and John Lewis department stores.
Department heads are said to be working on plans with the number of roles set to be gradually reduced over several years via redundancies and not replacing staff who leave.
The news follows a turbulent time for the retailer, with chair Sharon Lewis announcing her intention to stand down after widespread criticism over a proposal to sell a minority stake in the business.
Last March, the Partnership warned of potential job cuts and has already shed thousands of roles through store closures.
It has also written to staff telling them it was halving its current two-week redundancy pay per year of service policy as it was “higher than typical market practice and comes at a very high cost”.
The internal memo, as reported by The Telegraph, said the “the high cost of redundancy pay has been one of the things that’s prevented us from moving as quickly as we’ve wanted to transform ourselves for the future, and has restricted our ability to invest more in pay”.
Angry staff have protested on the Partnership’s internal message boards, says the Guardian, with some calling for an emergency meeting of the group’s partnership council.
A spokesperson for JLP told the Guardian: “What we are doing is cost-neutral and it is a rebalancing because any saving on redundancy pay will be directly reinvested into partner pay.”
The spokesperson added that the issue of redundancy pay had been put to the council in line with democratic processes, but the meeting had not been livestreamed to staff.
The Partnership has also told staff they will face smaller pay rises under new plans to give the business greater “flexibility” during its turnaround.
After posting a half year loss of £57m in September, the Partnership is due to is to publish an update its turnaround strategy.
Earlier this month, it appointed Peter Ruis joins as executive director to lead John Lewis. Ruis, who previously served on the Partnership’s executive team from 2005-2014, joins from Canada’s Indigo plc in Canada, where he was CEO as the business transitioned out of the pandemic.
Naomi Simcock, who stepped up as interim executive director for John Lewis, has been appointed into a new role as operations director for John Lewis.