Waterstones to make head office staff redundant

Waterstones will part ways with many of its head office staff as it becomes the latest in a long list of businesses to make employees redundant in the wake of Covid-19.

Though it did not reveal how many colleagues would be affected, the book chain said that it had started consulting with those in its Piccadilly head office whose jobs are at risk.

Waterstones moved its headquarters to the site in 2012 in a bid to get closer to both its customers and nearby publishers of the books it sells.

In a statement on Wednesday, it said that the company needed to cut costs, despite a strong performance in online sales, after months of shops being unable to open.

It 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.”

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost during the coronavirus pandemic, and experts fear that thousands more could come.

On Tuesday, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) warned that unemployment could hit around 10% of the UK’s workforce.

It called on the Government to extend the furlough scheme which is supporting more than nine million jobs across the country.

The scheme is set to phase out from August, and come to an end in October. The Treasury has promised a one-off £1,000 bonus to companies who bring back furloughed staff.