Waterstones announces head office redundancies

Waterstones announces head office redundancies

Waterstones has announced it is making a number of redundancies at its London Piccadilly head office.

The book chain, which declined to say the number of jobs at risk, said it was currently in consultation with those affected.

Waterstones also confirmed it had also not reopened a number of its stores following lockdown where "circumstances made this impractical". The firm said these were mainly its campus branches and one at Leadenhall Market in London. Its Covent Garden store, which reopened when lockdown measures eased, closed again after a week's trading, owing to the lack of footfall in central London.

A spokesperson for the chain said: “It is with great regret that Waterstones is to make a number of head office redundancies and is currently in consultation with those whose Piccadilly-based roles are affected. These are part of a number of measures undertaken to align the overheads of the business to the level of sales now being achieved.

“Waterstones has reopened all of its shops, excepting a small number where the circumstances make this impractical. As for almost all high street retailers, sales are lower than before the pandemic, notably in our city-centre shops. Notwithstanding the strong online performance of Waterstones.com, it is necessary to reduce the cost base of the business to reflect the new reality of our overall trading.”

The chain's c.e.o. James Daunt has been generally bullish about the firm's prospects despite the coronavirus, especially with an increase in online sales.

However, he told The Bookseller in June: "I think we will have lost forever that portion of our sales while we were closed, there is going to be no rebound in the way you can normally expect [if there is a major disrupton]. All of these lost sales generally come back, but that isn't gong to be the case now. For us and most independents, the end of March, April and May sales are gone, and that's a huge financial hit. It'll also take a while to get back to normal so there will be a further loss through the following months."

Earlier this month, W H Smith announced 150 of its own head office staff had entered redundancy consultations.