John Lewis cuts 325 department managers in shock redundancies

Post-Christmas retail gloom deepens as firm seen as model of ‘responsible capitalism’ wields axe

LAST UPDATED AT 09:56 ON Thu 14 Feb 2013

AN ALREADY gloomy day for the British high street was darkened further yesterday by the news that John Lewis is cutting 325 department managers.

The cuts came as a shock to staff in the wake of a bumper Christmas and ahead of an expected announcement of £475m in combined annual profits for the department store and supermarket Waitrose, The Guardian reports. An insider said the jobs had to go because the majority of the chain’s sales growth is online, not in-store.

The paper points out the redundancies, part of the firm's Retail Revolution plans, are thought to be its largest since 2009 - when 700 in-store call centre employees were let go - and could be a blow to John Lewis's "benign" image.

Last year, the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Charlie Mayfield, told the FT the firm - which Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has lauded as a model of "responsible capitalism" – had to make difficult decisions sometimes.

He said: "People talk about the partnership in slightly quaint ways, about it being almost like a cosy philanthropic movement, but actually the partnership is unashamedly a business."

The news came as the clothing chain Republic, which has 121 stores and around 2,500 staff, confirmed it was entering administration, saying: "We did all we could but it's simply too tough out there."

The youth fashion chain was the latest in a string of retail casualties since Christmas, including Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the administrators for the film-rental business have announced further closures, bringing the total number of stores shut to 324 and job losses to 2,300. · 

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