Across its stores and management, Marks and Spencer over the next three months will cut 7,000 jobs.

It said the coronavirus pandemic had made it clear there had been a “material shift in trade”.

M&S said it hoped a “significant proportion” of the cuts – about a tenth of its workforce – will be voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

In a statement they said: ‘We are today announcing important proposals to further streamline the business both at stores and management level.

‘As previously outlined Clothing & Home trading in the stores remains well below last year, with online and home delivery strong.  It is clear that there has been a material shift in trade and whilst it is too early to predict with precision where a new post Covid sales mix will settle, we must act now to reflect this change.

‘We have also learnt that we can work more flexibly and productively with more colleagues multi-tasking and transitioning between Food and Clothing & Home. The deployment of our leading store technology package developed in partnership with Microsoft has also enabled us to reduce layers of management and overheads in the support office.

‘As a result we are today embarking on a multi-level consultation programme which we anticipate will result in a reduction of c. 7,000 roles over the next 3 months. These will include departures in our central support centre, in regional management, and in our UK stores, reflecting the fact that the change has been felt throughout the business.

‘We expect a significant proportion will be through voluntary departures and early retirement. In line with our longstanding value of treating our people well, we will now begin an extensive programme of communication with colleagues.  

‘Concurrently we expect to create a number of new jobs as we invest in online fulfilment and the new ambient food warehouse and reshape our store portfolio over the course of the year.

‘The cost of the programme including redundancies will be reflected in a significant adjusting item to be included in the group’s half-year results. The streamlining programme is an important step in delivering on our cost savings programme and ensuring we emerge from the crisis with a lower cost base and a stronger more resilient business.’

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