Debenhams set to slash 320 store manager roles in cost-cutting drive
DEPARTMENT store chain Debenhams is set to slash 320 store management roles as it pushes through a major cost-cutting drive after being confronted by flagging sales.
The retailer said efforts to drive down the "complexity" of management positions, coupled with changes to working practices, would bring "significant cost savings".
The move could hit 25 per cent of store management roles across the organisation, with a new structure expected to be rolled out by the end of next month.
It was not immediately known how the changes would impact on the chain's staff in Northern Ireland, where it has stores in Belfast (CastleCourt), Derry (Foyleside), Ballymena (Fairhill), Newry (Quays) and Craigavon (Rushmere).
Debenhams saw its share price slump as much as 24 per cent in January after warning over profits and slashing prices to bolster lacklustre festive sales.
It also announced plans to ramp up cost savings, with around another £10 million earmarked for this financial year and £20 million extra annually under a reorganisation led by chief executive Sergio Bucher.
The retailer said: "As part of the implementation of the Debenhams Redesigned strategy a review of our store structure has been undertaken.
"The review has identified significant cost savings by reducing the complexity of management roles in stores as well as processes to optimise and standardise ways of working.
"The effect is that potentially 320 positions are at risk of redundancy - approximately 25 per cent of store management roles.
"We are currently consulting with individuals affected and will seek redeployment opportunities where possible."
Debenhams revealed in January that UK like-for-like sales had tumbled 2.6 per cent in the 17 weeks to December 30, with overall group sales down 1.8 per cent.
It warned at the time that "should the current competitive and volatile environment continue" into the second half, full-year profit before tax is likely to be in the range of £55 million to £65 million.
Shares in the firm were down 0.3 per cent in morning trading on the London Stock Exchange.