Business

Selfridges: Staff cuts ‘toughest decision we've ever had to take’

Man with Selfridges bags Image copyright Reuters

Upmarket department store chain Selfridges is cutting 450 staff after saying that the coronavirus outbreak has led to "the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history".

In a letter to staff, boss Anne Pitcher said it was "the toughest decision we have ever had to take".

The retailer has four stores - one each in London and Birmingham, and two in Manchester.

However, Selfridges has not yet indicated where the job cuts will be.

The company closed its stores in March when the government-mandated lockdown began, before reopening in June.

Its restaurants and hair salons began welcoming customers again at the start of this month.

'Fundamental changes'

In her message to staff, Ms Pitcher said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has forced change and caused us to rethink so many aspects of our lives and, will continue to do so as we adapt and respond to a new and evolving reality."

She warned that Selfridges needed to make "fundamental changes", adding that the company had been examining every aspect of its business "to ensure we are fit for purpose and the future".

There will be a period of collective consultation to discuss the proposals with elected team member representatives and trade union representatives, she said.

"Nobody imagined when we started the year that things would unfold like this and lead us to having to make such momentous decisions.

"It is a huge responsibility and I appreciate how incredibly unsettling receiving this news today must feel, prompting all sorts of thoughts and emotions," Anne Pitcher said.

The store chain was founded by American Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1908 with the flagship Oxford Street store in London opening in 1909.

Other Selfridges stores opened in Manchester's Trafford Centre in 1998, Exchange Square in 2002, and in Birmingham's Bullring in 2003.

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