Debenhams to axe 2,500 jobs as coronavirus lockdown hammers high street

Credit: PA

Debenhams is axing 2,500 jobs across its stores and warehouses in order to cut costs after being hammered by the coronavirus lockdown.

The news comes alongside new figures showing employment fell by the largest amount in more than a decade between April and June.

A spokesperson for the department store said they were taking "all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”

Debenhams said it was scrapping the roles of sales manager, visual merchandise manager, and selling support manager as part of a management restructuring process.

Hundreds of jobs have already been lost at the retailer since the start of the pandemic, with 18 of its stores being permanently closed.

Debenhams said it has no plans to close any more stores as part of the restructure.

In April they axed 422 jobs, closed seven of their stores and was forced to enter administration.

In May, the company said it would cut hundreds of jobs at its head office to help secure the company’s finances.

Credit: PA

The Debenhams spokesperson said: "We have successfully reopened 124 stores, post-lockdown, and these are currently trading ahead of management expectations.

“At the same time, the trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations.

“Those colleagues affected by redundancy have been informed and we are very grateful to them for their service and commitment to Debenhams.

“Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”

People walking past Debenhams department store on the High street in Winchester, ahead of the re-opening of retailers in England on June 15. Credit: PA

Many retailers are struggling to cope with the pressures caused by lockdown which saw most non-essential shops close to customers and caused huge disruption across all sectors of the economy.

The Office of National Statistics revealed today employment decreased by more than 220,000 during the last quarter.

The national job losses fell hardest on the youngest and oldest workers, and was only slightly offset by a growth in employment among those aged between 25 to 65.

Experts are worried that the full extent of UK's unemployment issue has been delayed by the government’s furlough scheme.

The scheme covered 80% of the salaries of staff who could not work because of lockdown.

The ONS estimated 7.5 million people were to be temporarily away from work in June this year, with most of them on the government's furlough scheme.

Around three million of these had been away for three months or more.

The furlough scheme is due to end in October, with many workers worried they will not have a job to come back to.