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Head office redundancies at high street retailers

Arcadia Group and Debenhams are making head office redundancies in a bid to cut costs and counteract tough trade, Drapers understands.

Debenhams 009

Several industry sources have told Drapers the retailers are cutting staff from departments including buying, retail and marketing.

It is thought this has been prompted by the rising costs stemming from the weak pound, as well as the generally difficult conditions fashion retailers face.

Gerry Harte, the retail director for Arcadia’s womenswear chain Miss Selfridge, is among those affected. He worked at Arcadia for almost 20 years, including nine at Miss Selfridge. It is understood he is now seeking other opportunities.

The group’s communication director Natalie Amosu has also departed after a year in the role.

“Arcadia has been letting people go,” said one recruitment source. “They are getting rid of director level jobs and making do with ‘heads of’ where they can.”

Another headhunter agreed: “We’ve heard a few people at Arcadia have been pushed out, and just before the annual bonus is given out in November.”

A spokesman for Arcadia said: “Arcadia employs over 25,000 people across the group including over 2,000 in our head office. I can confirm that as a result of ongoing business reviews there have been a small number of departures from the business. We continue to hire people to strengthen our business as appropriate.”

Meanwhile, sources have indicated that several people in the buying teams at Debenhams have been made redundant in recent weeks.

Earlier this year, the department store chain said it had “simplified the buying and merchandising structures” during the summer, resulting in an unspecified number of redundancies. But sources said the cuts were continuing.

“There has definitely been a bit of a clear out at Debenhams over the last few weeks,” said one headhunter.

“Numerous people, including buyers, have been pushed out,” agreed another. He added: “These big retailers need to cut overheads to compete with the etailers. Only the robust will weather the storm.”

A spokesman for Debenhams said the restructuring of head office happened some months ago and the business could not comment on any subsequent individual redundancies that may happen “over the normal course of business”.

There have also been changes at Bonmarché under new chief executive Helen Connolly.

Drapers understands a “handful” of redundancies are being made at a mid-management level as Connolly restructures the business. The retailer’s interim marketing director and head of marketing are both believed to be leaving the firm.

Bonmarché declined to comment.



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