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WH Smith looking to cut 1,500 jobs after sales drop due to lockdown

WH Smith is looking at cutting 1,500 jobs, which is 11% of its workforce after the lockdown has caused sales to drop

Most of the jobs that may be lost are those on the company’s travel sites, which are situated at airports and railway stations throughout the country.

The company has said that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that it expected to report losses of £70-75m for the year of 2020 up until the end of August.

WH Smith is the latest in a large list of High Street names that have announced that they are considering job cuts within the firm amid the disruption that has been caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes after PizzaExpress has said that it could close around 67 of its restaurants throughout the UK, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk. The chain, which also revealed it has put itself up for sale, blamed the move on the “significantly more challenging environment” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has 575 shops on High Streets throughout the country and employs over 14,000 people. Revenue at its travel division, which includes stores at airports, as well as those at rail stations, fell by 92% in the first month of the national lockdown.

At its High Street division, sales were still 25% down in July after lockdown eased.

WH Smith said it had now re-opened all its High Street stores and 246 of its largest travel division sites, those in airports, railway stations and hospitals.

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The announcement comes after William Hill has said that 119 of its High Street betting shops would not be re-opening after the lockdown measures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Also on Wednesday, fashion chain M&Co said it, too, was cutting 340 jobs and closing 47 stores.

WH Smith, which made £155m in profit last year, said the job cuts and associated restructuring would cost it between £15-19m, but added it had enough funds to get through a prolonged downturn.

This comes after in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, bars, restaurants and cafes are being shut once again under the reimposition of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Group chief executive Carl Cowling said:

WH Smith may cut 1,500 jobs after sales plummet
Group chief executive Carl Cowling

“While there has been some progress in our High Street business, it does continue to be adversely affected by low levels of footfall.”

“As a result, we now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses. I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions.”

He added that the company would do “everything we can to support them at this challenging time”.

News of the latest cuts comes after a wave of retail redundancies. On Monday, DW Sports said up to 1,700 jobs were at risk. John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Boots and Selfridges are among other big names to announce job cuts.

This comes after Hays Travel has announced that it will cut up to 878 jobs from their workforce of 4,500 employees, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on the travel industry.

Eve Cooper
Eve Cooper
I've been writing articles and stories for as long as I can remember and in the past few years I've had the fortune of turning that love & passion for writing into my job 🙂

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