The move was made after the closure of eight John Lewis stores earlier this year, which put nearly 1,500 jobs at risk. As shopping habits change and more and more people shop online, Waitrose and the department store chain owner, John Lewis, are trying to cut costs. It said it would help the affected employees find new positions and hope to avoid forced redundancies.

The proposed job cuts “will allow us to reinvest in what matters most to our customers“, a John Lewis Partnership spokesperson said. It will invest in customer service roles and “visual merchandising to make our shops look their best to entice customers“, the retailer said.

The cuts, which work out at nearly three management roles per store, will “reduce the number of layers between our most senior leaders and non-management” shop floor staff, it added. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a trend towards people shopping online instead of in stores.

It then declared a further eight branch closures this year, after the epidemic’s impact led it to report a heavy annual loss. Earlier this month, the partnership pronounced plans to build 10,000 rental homes to give it a constant long-term income over the next few years.

Currently, it has 34 John Lewis stores and 331 Waitrose stores in the UK. Its 80,000 employees are also business partners and usually share in profits.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that for John Lewis, “pivoting quickly to keep up with the accelerated shift in shopping habits brought on by the pandemic has been far from easy“.

Last year was the first time since 1953 that the firm did not pay a bonus, “highlighting the once-in-a-generation challenge the partnership is facing“, she said. The firm is spending £1bn over five years to speed up the move to online sales.

To do that, it needs to make significant cost savings elsewhere,” Ms Streeter said. “Closing underperforming stores and reducing headcount is an inevitable consequence as chair Dame Sharon White tries to steer the ship towards the online shopping future.”

Source: BBC News