Debenhams to axe 320 store managers

Struggling department store chain Debenhams is to axe 320 jobs across the UK, a quarter of its store managers.

The company said it would take out a layer of instore management by March, similar to moves taken by several big supermarket groups in recent weeks. The store said it aims to redeploy staff where possible.

The cuts form part of Debenhams’ £10m cost-saving plan, announced in January when it issued a profit warning following poor Christmas sales amid what it said was “volatile and highly competitive” trading in the UK.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are all stripping out managerial jobs, leading to thousands of job losses in the retail industry. The major food retailers have been hit by the success of discount chains Aldi and Lidl as well as a switch to shopping online and in small local stores.

Debenhams said: “As we continue to deliver the Debenhams Redesigned strategy we are reviewing our retail structure. The review looks to identify how we can reduce cost and complexity in store processes so that we can focus our resources on serving customers better.

“We are currently consulting with individuals affected and will seek redeployment opportunities where possible. We envisage our new structure being fully in place by the end of March.”

Debenhams stressed that the store managers affected do not deal with customers directly. The retailer wants to focus more on shopfloor staff to improve customer service. Not long after Sergio Bucher took the helm at Debenhams in October 2016, he moved 2,000 staff to the shopfloor.

Debenhams has shut two stores in Eltham, south-east London, and at Farnborough in Hampshire, and is considering eight more shop closures as part of Bucher’s recovery plan. The group employs 22,000 people across the UK and Ireland and has 176 stores.