Harvey Nichols is the third big name in just a couple of days to be mulling job cuts in the near future. It looks like late July could be one of the worst periods for news of fashion retail job losses as reopened stores deal with the sales losses of recent months and face the prospect of no return to normal any time soon.
The upscale department store chain has reportedly said that the coronavirus crisis “changed the shape of the business”.
The Sunday Times said CEO Manju Malhotra sent an email to its 1,500 employees saying that there could be staff redundancies at all of its locations.
At the weekend, news emerged that both M&S and Ted Baker are also looking to axe hundreds of jobs as the mass and middle markets of the fashion sector prove weak.
Now the news about Harvey Nichols reinforces the fact that the luxury sector isn't immune to the wider issues facing the industry. We've already heard in recent weeks that Harrods, Mulberry, and Burberry are all also looking at job cuts.
Harvey Nichols had been profitable before the pandemic hit, although pre-tax profits of only £2.7 million in the year to the end of March 2019 meant that those profits were fairly fragile. That said, the company has been sacrificing profits in recent years in order to transform its operations, including massive refurbishment at its Knightsbridge, London flagship.
It's thinking around redundancies isn't yet set in stone with numbers not decided on so far, according to the news report. It said it’s doing all it can to either avoid job losses or to minimize their number.
It's unclear where the axe might fall as far as individual countries are concerned, although expectations are that the UK will see the most job losses given that it has the largest number of Harvey Nichols branches. The company has seven stores in the UK and six more internationally.