Britain's M&S to shed 7,000 jobs in latest blow to retail sector

LONDON (Reuters) – British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) said on Tuesday it plans to cut a further 7,000 jobs, dealing the latest blow to the country’s beleaguered retail sector from the COVID-19 crisis.

M&S said last month it would shed 950 jobs as part of a store management revamp. Its latest round of redundancies will impact its central support centre, regional management and UK stores over the next three months.

The cuts add to thousands already announced by other major British retailers, including Boots (WBA.O), John Lewis [JLPLC.UL], Dixons Carphone (DC.L) and WH Smith (SMWH.L).

M&S said it expected a significant proportion of the latest cuts would be through voluntary departures and early retirement.

“These proposals are an important step in becoming a leaner, faster business set up to serve changing customer needs and we are committed to supporting colleagues through this time,” said Chief Executive Steve Rowe.

M&S said group sales were down 19.2% year-on-year in the 19 weeks to Aug. 20, which included part of Britain’s lockdown period, with clothing and home sales down 49.1% and food sales down 1.1%.

In the latter eight weeks of the period clothing and home sales were down 29.9%, while food sales were up 2.5%.

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