WH Smith is the latest retailer to announce possible redundancies due to the impact of Covid.
The company says it may cut up to 1,500 jobs amid expected losses of some £70 million. WH Smith has 612 high street shops and employs more than 14,000 people.
In a trading update statement it says “High street footfall is significantly down on 2019 levels.
“As a result of the impact on passenger numbers and lower footfall on the UK high street, we have taken the difficult decision to review our store operations across both our Travel and High Street businesses. We are now starting a collective consultation on a proposed restructure which could lead to up to c.1,500 roles becoming redundant. This has been a very difficult decision and we are committed to supporting all our colleagues throughout this process and ensuring it is conducted fairly.”
WH Smith has stores in Ramsgate, Margate and Westwood Cross.
WH Smith Group Chief Executive, Carl Cowling, said: “Covid-19 continues to have a significant impact on the WH Smith Group. Throughout the pandemic, we have responded quickly and taken decisive actions to protect the business including substantially strengthening our financial position. We have also welcomed support from Government where available.
“In our Travel business, while we are beginning to see early signs of recovery in some of our markets, the speed of recovery continues to be slow. At the same time, while there has been some progress in our High Street business, it does continue to be adversely affected by low levels of footfall.
“As a result, we now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses. I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions, and we will do everything we can to support them at this challenging time.
“While we are mindful of the continuing uncertainties that exist, we are a resilient and versatile business. The operational actions we are taking along with the financing arrangements that are in place, put us in a strong position to navigate this time of uncertainty and we are well positioned to benefit in due course from the recovery of our key markets.”