Footwear retailer Jones Bootmaker has revealed plans to shut its Eastbourne headquarters and relocate all its front-end departments to London.
Speaking exclusively to Drapers as it reported its full-year results this week, managing director Andrew White said all merchandising, buying and marketing roles would transfer to London if the move goes ahead.
The business is about to enter a period of consultation regarding the move, which would affect 30 to 40 staff. Although no time frame has been set, if it does take place the relocation would not happen before early next year.
An office in London is yet to be secured but White added that the retailer’s existing London buying office, which houses five staff, based above its store on the King’s Road, would be assimilated into the new office.
“We hope many of the staff based in Eastbourne will decide to make the move to London and commute,” he said. “However, if they choose not to, they will be offered redundancy.
“While it is a real shame for Eastbourne as we are one of the big employers here, it makes sense for the business to be in London.”
The news follows the announcement that Jones Bootmaker is to merge its back-office functions with out-of-town footwear retailer Brantano.
In August, the retailer said it would relocate its warehouse and finance departments to Brantano’s HQ in Coalville, Leicestershire, at the start of next year to create “greater operational efficiencies”. Jones Bootmaker was acquired by Brantano’s parent company, Dutch retail conglomerate Macintosh, for £40m in January 2011.
White confirmed that only one of Jones Bootmaker’s back-office staff will move to Coalville, while the rest, about 50 staff, will take redundancy.
For the full year to January 28, 2012, Jones Bootmaker reported a 4.9% increase in turnover to £77.9m, up from £74.3m the previous year. Operating profit fell to £300,000, down from £1.6m the previous year. This was largely attributed to an onerous lease provision of £1.1m against four stores.
At the beginning of next year, Jones Bootmaker will launch a revamped website.