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Fenwick to cut more than 10% of its staff after profits collapse

Department store chain Fenwick is to shed more than 10% of its staff after profits collapsed by more than £36m in two years.

The eight store chain is to reduce staffing from 3,658 to 3,250, with many functions being centralised rather than being operated at store level.

In the year to 26 January profits fell from £30.4m to £2m. The year earlier they had dropped by 30%.

It said it had seen ‘challenging market conditions all department store groups are facing,’ alongside reducing the value of its stores.

Sales in the past year fell by 3.6% to £411.1m.

‘Our annual results reflect the challenging market conditions all department store groups are facing, including increased competition from online retail, declining footfall on the high street, and increasingly competitive price discounting – factors that have been exacerbated by a rise in the cost of living that has led to a fall in consumers’ disposable income,’ said the chain.

‘We have also restructured parts of the business and have made the difficult to decision to cut staff numbers across the business, reducing total headcount by 408 to 3,250. The fact that sales fell only slightly last year demonstrates the strength of our local brand, and our product and customer service offer.

‘As part of our programme we are investing in IT and other back office systems, in our flagship Newcastle store and in a new ecommerce offer, which will go live in early 2019.’

Last year Fenwick said it was investing heavily in creating an online sales platform but still does not sell online.