BRITAIN’S struggling retailers have axed nearly 150,000 jobs this year with experts predicting fresh pain in 2019, research for the Press Association has shown.
Almost 20,000 shops and restaurants closed their doors and 148,132 jobs were wiped out in the past year, end of year figures compiled by the Centre for Retail Research show.
While, Poundworld’s collapse in June was the biggest casualty of the year, putting 5,100 people out of a job.
Meanwhile distressed retailers including Mothercare, Carpetright, New Look and Homebase used company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) - an insolvency procedure which allows struggling firms to close unprofitable stores.
Which retailers might axe staff in 2019?
HERE are the high street chains that have said they might need to scale back operations in 2019:
- Asda: The supermarket is to start consulting with staff over potential job losses next year which could total almost 2,500.
- Debenhams: The department store is accelerating its store closure programme, putting up to 50 sites and 4,000 jobs at risk.
- Evans Cycles: Up to 50 per cent of its locations will also close, leading to around 650 job cuts.
- House of Fraser: At least eight House of Fraser stores are set to close after Sports Direct failed to come to an agreement with landlords, making around 2,000 job losses likely. Mr Ashley has previously said he hopes to keep 80% of House of Fraser stores open, but the status of some sites remains unclear.
- Ikea: The Swedish furniture store unveiled plans to cut 350 UK jobs over the next two years as part of a global transformation plan. But it will also add 500 new jobs in spring when the new Greenwich store opens.
- Laura Ashley: The retail chain is expected to close around 40 stores under its new chairman.
- Pets At Home: The pet chain is likely to cut some jobs next year, having earmarked 30 vet practices at its stores for closure.
But several retailers – including Asda, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles – are already expected to cut jobs in 2019.
The news comes amid dire warnings over poor November trading, raising fears a sub-par Christmas could push more chains into distress.
Professor Joshua Bamfield of the Centre for Retail Research said: “We feel that 2019 is going to be a repeat of these dire figures unless or until the Government takes action to provide a level playing field for both online retailers and the high street.”
Real estate adviser Altus Group said rising business rates will add pressure on the high street, forcing firms to pay an extra £127.88million on 50,000 retail premises.
Stephen Beer, chief investment officer at Epworth Investment Management, added the outlook for shopper confidence was still weak going into a new year.
He said: “Consumer surveys show that people are not feeling confident about the future, despite an increase in wages.”
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley said this month that retailers would be “smashed to pieces” by the weaker spending.
Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, told the Press Association: “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.”
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