Iconic high street retailer Marks & Spencer is to shed 1,230 jobs and close 27 stores after a difficult Christmas trading period. The job cuts amount to more than 1.5 per cent of its 70,000 staff. News of the redundancies spread ahead of a trading update that showed its biggest decline in sales for a decade and was described as 'dire' in The Times.
News of the job cuts broke in The Times on Tuesday and was widely covered elsewhere. With the eyes of the media firmly focused on the high street, post-Christmas trading updates are receiving intense coverage and none more so than M&S. While the coverage was almost universally negative, The Daily Telegraph's website noted on Tuesday that the cuts could improve the firm's efficiencies.
WHO ARE THE PR PLAYERS?
Before Christmas, PRWeek revealed that M&S' top communicator Flic Howard-Allen was quitting after seven years to return to Hill & Knowlton as senior client services director. She will remain at M&S until the spring. The retailer uses Tulchan Communications for its financial PR.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
M&S will doubtless be engulfed by a wave of negative media and will need to make a clear distinction between itself and the number of high street names that face decline. The firm is by no means alone in experiencing tough trading conditions - this week Next announced a seven per cent sales fall for the six months to Christmas Eve and Debenhams saw a decline of 3.3 per cent over the past 12 weeks. M&S' recent 24-hour sale may be repeated as long-term market share may prove more important than short-term profitability.
7.1% - Fall in M&S Christmas like-for-like sales