Expert opinion: M&S to cut 7,000 jobs in next three months

Categories: Salford Business School

Retail expert Dr Gordon Fletcher, of the University of Salford Business School, examines the announcement today that Marks and Spencer will be cutting 7,000 jobs over the next three months across its stores and management.

"Today's announcement of 7,000 job losses at M&S reveals how much Covid-19 has accelerated the long-term change that has been progressing in the large retail sector for years. M&S claim that a 'material shift' in the way that consumers do their shopping has brought on the cuts. This is not a sudden shift. Only a month ago M&S announced 950 job cuts. In May there was a reduction in shareholder dividends. At the beginning of the lockdown it announced a £100m reduction in clothing orders. In November last year it announced a phased programme of store closures and at the same time dropped out of the FTSE100. This is a 'material shift' that has been slowly accruing over a number of years. 

“The wider warning for the retail sector and the fallout from lockdown conditions is embedded in the name of M&S's change programme - 'Never the Same Again'. Face to face retail may return to a relatively familiar normality in the future. However, many businesses have learned important lessons during lockdown. They can be more flexible in many ways behind the scenes. Some processes do need to be as labour intensive, some are not needed at all. Employees have proven to be capable of being more productive if they are not siloed. And all of this means that many businesses know how to be just as productive with less workers - with a devastating consequence for jobs."

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