Harrods is believed to be cutting up to 700 jobs as the fallout from the coronavirus crisis continues to devastate the retail sector. That number would mean up to 14% of its workforce being made redundant to both help it in the immediate post-crisis period and protect it for the longer term.
MD Michael Ward has informed the firm’s 4,800 staff and said that it will take some time, as well as a “drastic improvement in external conditions for our business to recover and return to growth”.
He also said that the company’s ability to get back on its feet is being hurt by the need for social distancing and other safety measures. Additionally, the plunge in international travel has meant that the foreign tourists on which the company relies are non-existent.
Harrods is usually a magnet for international tourists and any visit there potentially sees more non-UK shoppers than those from within Britain. It's particularly popular with Chinese tourists and those from the Middle East.
Despite the gloomy message, he also said that early signs since reopening are “optimistic”. But they're clearly not enough on their own to ensure the business can prosper.
As with other large retailers, it looks like those working in the areas affected most by the crisis (and the measures are taken to fight it) could see the most job losses. That means food and beverage. Other staff who have only been with the company for a short time are also said to be more likely to lose their jobs.
Ward added: “As a leader of Harrods for over 15 years, I have overseen some hugely challenging times, but this is undoubtedly the biggest challenge we have faced. Nothing compares to the sadness and loss at having to let valued colleagues go.”