Debenhams to cut 2,500 jobs to ensure “viable future” amid pandemic

Jessica Paige 11 August 2020 (Last Updated August 11th, 2020 17:06)

British multinational retailer Debenhams has announced plans to cut 2,500 jobs in department stores and warehouses to ensure itself “every chance of a viable future”.

Debenhams to cut 2,500 jobs to ensure “viable future” amid pandemic
Debenhams has cut around a third of its workforce since it fell into administration at the start of April. Credit: Danny on twitter

This comes as trading remains slow for the department store chain despite reopening in June when England’s lockdown measures were eased for non-essential retailers. Debenhams previously expressed the need to cut costs.

In a statement, the retailer said: “The trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations.

“Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”

Employees at risk of losing their job include sales managers, shop assistants, visual merchandise managers, distribution centre roles, and selling support managers.

The company has said that affected staff members would leave the business by the end of the week.

This news comes shortly after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced that UK consumers are reluctant to spend, with footfall remaining below the three-month average decline.

Debenhams cuts a third of its workforce

These recent cuts, on top of the 4,000 jobs cut in May, means that the retailer has cut around a third of its workforce since it fell into administration at the start of April.

The retailer also cut hundreds of jobs in December 2019 and January 2020 when more than 20 stores closed. In the past year, more than 40 Debenhams stores have shut.

Retail employment has been hard hit by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, with Debenhams being only one of many UK retailers to cut thousands of jobs this year, alongside Marks & Spencer (M&S), Boots, John Lewis, WHSmith, and Dixons Carphone.

Response from the public

Many members of the public have expressed anger towards Debenhams regarding the job cuts.

Quinny on Twitter said: “2500 jobs gone in Debenhams, people I worked with, given 3 days notice… What a shitty thing to do! Can’t believe it, gutted for my teammates and friends at Debenhams!”

Melissa, who was one of the staff members affected by the latest job cuts, said: “Thank you very much Debenhams. 4 Years after you gave me a job after BHS shut, you also make me redundant in the most underhanded way. At least BHS spoke to us face to face rather than a conference call.”

Melissa also said that a protest is being organised outside Debenhams Manchester regarding the latest redundancies.

Danny from Manchester posted an image to Twitter showing Debenhams staff reacting to the redundancy half an hour after receiving notice:

The future for Debenhams

Last month, Debenhams, alongside investment bank Lazards, began assessing ways to exit administration. Possible outcomes for the administration included new joint venture arrangements, a sale to a third party, or current owners retaining the business.

Frasers Group owner Mike Ashley is rumoured to have recently expressed interest in obtaining 30 Debenhams stores. Ashley is expected to make a public statement as soon as this week according to news source Mail Online.