The luxury department store Harrods are to make 14% of their workforce redundant as the retailer must “protect the business in the longer term.”
Harrods will axe 700 jobs and the CEO Michael Ward said this is needed to “aid our recovery in the short-term, but also to protect the business in the longer term.”
The stores CEO told his 4,800 staff in an internal message, “I have been honest about the impact this pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on our business,” said Ward.
“That it is going to take time and a drastic improvement in external conditions for our business to recover and return to growth.
“The necessary social distancing requirements to protect employees and customers is having a huge impact on our ability to trade, while the devastation in international travel has meant we have lost key customers coming to our store and frontline operations.
“While early signs since re-opening are optimistic, this recovery will take longer than any of us would like.”
Ward told his employees that Harrods will try and find the 700 staff alternative jobs.
He said, “Nothing compares to the sadness and loss at having to let valued colleagues go.”
A staff member told the Sun newspaper, “All of the employees have been split into groups and are going to be able to ask questions when possible.
“Those who are vulnerable or in danger have been contacted, but they have said that we could all be gone by the 10 July.
“People are only going back to work on the second, as they are reopening the restaurant and things on the fourth.
“Everyone is obviously a bit stressed as it’s come out of the blue and no one was expecting it to be their last paycheque.”
A spokeswoman for Harrods said, “Redundancies will come from those parts of the business most adversely impacted by the loss of trade resulting from the pandemic and lockdown.
“This decision was made following a thorough review into all available options but driven by a need to aid recovery in the short-term through cutting costs and protecting the business in the longer-term.
Andy Barr, retail expert and co-founder of online price tracking website www.alertr.co.uk, said, “It seems the big-name stores are taking the biggest hit during the UK lockdown.
“This is a store you definitely wouldn’t expect to be axing jobs due to the luxurious nature of Harrods and the often-wealthy clientele that purchase their goods there.
“However, Harrods is also known as a tourist spot for many who do travel to the UK so the lack of international travel would have drastically affected their profits.
“With shops now able to open, hopefully the store will see a pickup in trade but this news does go to show that even the most prestigious shops and brands have been affected by the pandemic. Hopefully by making these cuts now, they can stay afloat until international travel returns to normal, whenever that may be.”