Merseyside Primark staff face anxious wait with 400 jobs set to be cut

The retail giant is set to axe 400 management roles as the pandemic continues to impact the high street.

Staff at Merseyside’s Primark stores face an uncertain wait as the retailer announces it is to cut hundreds of staff roles across the UK.

The discount fashion chain, which operates four stores in the region, is looking to axe about 400 management roles across its 191 UK outlets.

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The cuts could affect the stores in Liverpool, Birkenhead, Wallasey and Southport.

The company, which is owned by Associated British Foods, has started consultations with staff and the process could go on for several months.

Primark, Church Street, Liverpool.

What’s been said

Kari Rodgers, Primark retail director for the UK, said: “The changes we’re proposing will deliver a simplified and more consistent management structure across all of our stores, provide more opportunities for career progression and offer greater flexibility.

“We are now focused on supporting our colleagues who are affected by these proposed changes and will be going through the consultation process.”

What jobs will go?

It is expected the changes will result in around 400 fewer retail managers.

A new management level role will be created as part of the change.

Primark employs 29,000 staff in total across 191 stores in the UK.

Sales figures beginning to rise

Details of the job cut plans come as Primark revealed it had seen a hit to its recent trading as the outbreak of the Omicron COVID-19 variant kept shoppers away from stores.

The group said Primark’s UK like-for-like sales were 10% lower in the 16 weeks to 8 January when compared with pre-pandemic levels two years ago, with so-called shopper footfall hit by the rapid rise in Omicron cases.

However, AB Foods said shopper numbers and trading had since improved as Omicron fears ease, adding that like-for-like sales were higher when compared with a year earlier, when stores were shut due to lockdown measures.

Total group-wide Primark sales were 36% ahead year-on-year, it added.

AB Foods said supply chain problems had begun to ease since last autumn, although it is still seeing some delays at ports and with shipments.

The group is offsetting higher costs by slashing store operating costs and overheads.

Primark said it expects sales to be “significantly” higher year-on-year between now and April, now all its stores are open.

The group said: “It is difficult to predict future trading conditions with certainty, but we have seen an encouraging improvement in footfall in the UK and Ireland as the disruption from Omicron reduces.”