John Lewis is to axe nearly 800 jobs in its customer restaurants and store administration roles in the biggest ever round of job cuts at the department store.
The retailer said it was consulting with 773 people about redundancy as it attempts to cut costs and become more efficient. The cuts are the first sign of change since the department store’s new chief executive Paula Nickolds took the helm in late January.
The department store chain said it planned to centralise the administration behind its curtain and carpet estimating and fitting services, moving jobs out of stores to its office in Didsbury, Manchester. It is also axing chefs, as it switches away from preparing food at in-store cafes in favour of having ready-made dishes delivered by external suppliers.
The retailer said it would offer workers alternative roles, but the majority of those affected by the changes are expected to leave. Excactly 386 new jobs will be created in the new central administration hub and in cafe customer service roles.
Carpet estimators and fitters will not be affected by the job cuts but will now work for customers who buy online and from the high street outlets.
In a bid to reduce costs, the group shut some staff canteens about a year ago and introduced longer shifts for delivery drivers. The new job cuts are the biggest since 2009 when 700 in-store call centre employees were made redundant and will be a blow to John Lewis’s benign, paternalistic image.
The John Lewis group – which includes Waitrose – warned last month that its annual bonus for staff, known as ‘partners’ because they own the company collectively, would fall significantly this year and that staff numbers would drop after operating profits dived 58.3% to £113.7m in the six months to the end of July.