Debenhams eyes 60 job cuts at support centres

By guest author Elias Jahshan from Retail Gazette

  • Debenhams looking to slim down its support centres in London and Taunton
  • Colleagues have all entered into consultation, with a view to make 60 redundant
  • Cuts are part of department store’s ongoing turnaround scheme

Debenhams has started a consultation period with support centre staff which could result in around 60 redundancies, Retail Gazette can reveal.

A source has told Retail Gazette that staff in Debenhams support centres in both London and Taunton were told yesterday that they would enter into consultation, with the expected result being that around 60 people would leave the business.

It is understood the roles are focused in back-office and central support teams.

Retail Gazette also understand that Debenhams has decided to minimise recruitment of new positions and focus on business-critical roles.

There are currently around 1200 support centre staff members.

The job cuts are thought to be part of the beleaguered retailer’s ongoing cost-cutting drive amid its wider turnaround scheme, which includes reorganising its business units into a new operating model, tightening its leadership team, and cutting back on non-core activities to concentrate on the core business.

The support centre job cuts are separate from the thousands of potential job cuts already announced in October last year when Debenhams unveiled plans to close 50 under-performing stores out of its 165-strong portfolio in the next three to five years.

The embattled department store announced the store closures amid its preliminary results, which included a historic GBP 491.50 million statutory loss for the full-year.

The new year has also been a turbulent one for Debenhams, after it was slugged with yet another credit rating downgrade from Moody’s following the retailer’s “weak operational performance” over the crucial Christmas trading period.

Debenhams’ chief executive Sergio Bucher and Chairman Sir Ian Cheshire were also both ousted from the board – thanks to a shareholder coup led by Mike Ashley during the AGM.

Cheshire subsequently resigned, but the board agreed to allow Bucher to carry out his duties at chief executive, albeit without a seat in the boardroom.