British retailer John Lewis to cut 1,500 head office jobs

LONDON (Reuters) - British retailer John Lewis said on Wednesday it would cut 1,500 head office jobs as part of its strategy to return to sustainable profit by 2025.

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers are seen walking past a John Lewis store, following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, in London, Britain July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The employee-owned department stores and Waitrose supermarket group, which reported a first-half loss of 635 million pounds in September, said the proposed redundancies would save 50 million pounds a year.

The cuts will fall on employees - or what it calls partners - at its sites in central London and Bracknell, west of London, where the group employs about 5,000 people in total. The job loses will be complete by April 2021, it said.

Partnership chairman Sharon White has set out a five-year recovery plan for the group, which like other retailers has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, the department store division said it would close eight stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

The group is investing 1 billion pounds in expanding its online business and improving its stores as well as seeking efficiency savings of 300 million pounds a year by 2022.

White said on Wednesday the group needed to be agile and able to adapt quickly to the changing needs of customers.

“Losing partners is incredibly hard as an employee-owned business,” she said, adding that alternative roles would be found wherever possible.

The group also said finance director Patrick Lewis had decided to leave at the end of this year.

He will be succeeded by Berangere Michel, currently director of customer service and former finance director for John Lewis.

Reporting by Paul Sandle. Editing by Jane Merriman