Harvey Nichols warns of redundancies as Covid-19 affects ‘shape of business’

The luxury retailer reportedly announced in an email to 1,500 employees that jobs would be cut across all locations

Department store chain Harvey Nichols has become the latest retailer to warn of job cuts as the impact of Covid-19 crisis continues to grip the UK.

The luxury retailer confirmed with Cosmetics Business that a report by The Sunday Times was “broadly accurate” in suggesting that 1,500 employees had received an email conveying potential job losses, but it would not comment further.

The report also stated that the retailer’s CEO Manju Malhotra said the pandemic had “changed the shape of the business” and that redundancies would be made across all locations.

The luxury retailer, which has been in business since 1831, has eight stores across the UK, in Birmingham, Leeds and London, the location of its iconic Knightsbridge store.

In recent years, the chain – owned by Hong Kong tycoon Dickson Poon – has invested heavily in revamping its beauty category.

Prior to the pandemic, it doubled the size of its Fragrance Room space, becoming home to more than 100 perfume brands from Creed, to Maison Francis and Kilian.

In the autumn of 2019 Harvey Nichols’ Knightsbridge store welcomed customers to its dedicated beauty and wellness floor offering treatments such as the kegel throne and luxury facials.

The opening followed Harvey Nichols’ Beauty Lounge launch in 2016, which houses brow and nail services.

“Our customer loves discovering new and exciting brands at Harvey Nichols – something we pride ourselves on being able to deliver time and time again,” said Harvey Nichols’ Director of Beauty and Concessions, Jo Osborne, at the time of the wellness floor’s reveal.

The virus does not discriminate

Harvey Nichols’ news comes in the same month as a tidal wave of retail businesses announce staff cutbacks.

Health and beauty retailer Boots, John Lewis and Harrods have all streamlined their workforces and, across the Atlantic, Macy’s has said almost 4,000 jobs will go.

However, there are some recruitment success stories to emerge from the pandemic.

Last week, direct-selling brand Avon said it was preparing for an influx of representatives and reported a 114% uptick in sign ups year-on-year since lockdown was enforced at the end of March.

Meanwhile, a study published by Mayku, found almost a quarter of consumers with a hobby for creating beauty products had been inspired to bring their business to market during the stay at home order.

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