Retail workers make up bulk of 50,000 job cuts so far this year

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job cuts

The current challenges facing the high street has played a significant role in contributing to the colossal 50,000 job losses in the UK this year, according to research.

Data from the Press Association shows that approximately 50,000 staff have been made redundant or seen their role put under threat, with the bulk of them working for retail chains.

In the past few weeks alone, House of Fraser has put more than 6000 jobs at risk with its controversial CVA, while Poundworld has plunged into administration, endangering a further 5100.

It adds to the thousands of job losses from the collapse of Toys R Us UK and Maplin earlier this year, as well as thousands of jobs at stake in CVAs from New Look, Mothercare, Carpetright and The Original Factory Shop.

Meanwhile, high street dining staples such as Prezzo, Byron, Carluccio’s, Strada and Jamie’s Italian have shut restaurants and culled hundreds of jobs.

Retailers have been hit by Brexit-fuelled inflation, soaring business rates and falling consumer confidence.

Shop workers’ union Usdaw said the scale of store closures was “alarming”.

“We are very concerned about the impact of Brexit increasing prices at the same time as incomes being squeezed, customers changing their shopping habits and new technology being introduced,” general secretary Paddy Lillis said.

Union organisation TUC has called on the government to “up its game” to stem the tide of job losses.

“Retail depends on customers having money in their pockets. One reason why some shops are struggling is because wage growth has been very weak,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

“Government needs to up its game, boost the economy and invest in great jobs that people can live on.”

Separate data from turnaround specialist firm Alvarez and Marsal shows that the number of UK companies filing for insolvency – whether it be administration or CVA – is expected to grow year, especially within the retail sector.

It warned that a prolonged bout of poor trading and challenging market conditions has left the country’s retail industry facing a “make or break” ­moment.

“We’re about to ­enter a make or break period for the UK high street,” Alvarez & Marsal restructuring adviser Richard Fleming told The Telegraph.

“The casualties have previously been businesses that have failed to ­develop their proposition over a period of time.

“Now, we’re seeing the pressure turn on retailers with good customer offers and performance track records.”

He estimated that the UK would experience a 15 per cent increase in insolvencies from all sectors this year, and that the retail crisis will continue.

Meanwhile, figures from Altus Group show that the average business rates bill for a department store in England and Wales this year for rocketed 26.6 per cent to £717,952 after last year’s revaluation.

“Business rates are rarely the sole driver for insolvencies but certainly a contributory factor, with bills having risen by more than a fifth through inflation during the seven years before last year’s revaluation,” Altus head of UK business rates Robert Hayton said.

“Add that to the lethal cocktail of other increased operating costs for the national living wage and apprenticeship levy and it creates the perfect storm for 2018 being the year of the CVA.”

Away from retail, BT is axing around 13,000 jobs as part of a revamped cost-cutting drive, with two-thirds of the cuts to fall in the UK.

The collapse of outsourcer Carillion has so far resulted in the loss of more than 2375 jobs, while British Gas owner Centrica announced it would axe 4000 roles over the next three years.

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