Restaurant chain Pizza Express (HKG:3396) and electrical goods store Dixons Carphone (LON:DC) are among the latest companies to announce large-scale redundancies during lockdown.
The tech retailer said it would be cutting 800 jobs as it began restructuring its staff for a new way of running stores.
The company, which owns Currys PC World, stated that retail managers, assistant managers and team leaders will be the ones cut at the company, while new positions in sales management, customer experience and operational excellence management will be made available.
Another feature of the reshuffle will be a shift to a greater virtual focus, with some employees being moved onto its online ShopLive service, where customers are given advice and support via video link with staff.
Commenting on the announcement, company CEO, Mark Allsop, said:
“We remain committed to our stores as part of an omnichannel future, where we offer the best of online and stores to our customers.”
“As part of this, we want to empower our store leadership teams, create a flatter management structure and make it easy for our customers to shop with us, however they choose.”
“This proposal will ensure in-store roles are focused on giving a seamless customer experience and exceptional service across all our customer channels, whether online or in-store.”
“Sadly, this proposal means we have now entered into consultation with some of our store colleagues. This was not an easy decision and we’ll do everything possible to look after those colleagues we can’t find new roles for, financially and otherwise.”
The news comes just months after Dixon Carphone closed all 531 of its Carphone Warehouse stores, leaving more than 2,900 people unemployed.
Also undergoing restructuring during lockdown is Pizza Express, who are set to close 67 of its 449 outlet. The company has so far failed to disclose which sites will shut down, claiming that it had “yet to be decided”.
The company’s managing director, Zoe Bowley, stated that Pizza Express would do everything possible to support its staff during the difficult period, but that the move should be seen as a “positive step forward”.
The company currently has 166 stores open as the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme comes into force, and stated that initial customer demand had been ‘encouraging’.
Despite this, the company stated it hoped to announce a Company Voluntary Agreement in the near future – an insolvency procedure which would see it discuss repayment of its £1 billion debt with creditors, on more favourable terms.
Speaking on the news, Pizza Express CFO, Andy Pellington, said: “While we have had to make some very difficult decisions, none of which has been taken lightly, we are confident in the actions being taken to reduce the level of debt, create a more focused business and improve the operational performance, all of which puts us in a much stronger position.”
High street employment as it stands
While the Eat Out to Help Out scheme may be well-meaning, it doesn’t change the stark reality that thousands more jobs will be lost across the high street – and elsewhere – in both the medium term and near future.
Partner at law firm BLM, Julian Cox, stated:
“Pizza Express is yet another household name that has been pushed to the brink by Covid-19.”
“Whilst the government has attempted to encourage people through the doors with ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, the initiative is clearly not going to be enough to protect the sector in the long term.”
Questions have continued being asked about the government’s contingency plan for jobs and unemployment support, as thousands of desperate and recently unemployed Brits look for help, in a market scant with new employment opportunities.
Despite the seemingly sombre update, both the companies issuing job cuts today saw their shares rally during Tuesday trading, with Dixons Carphone up 3.76% and Pizza Express owner Legend Holdings Corp up 8.73%.