Next boss: Thousands of retail jobs will be “unviable”

In an interview with the BBC Next CEO, Simon Wolfson, detailed the threat to thousands of retail jobs which he believes are becoming “unviable”, after lockdown has encouraged more consumers to shop online.

In recent months, a number of major retailers have announced plans to cut jobs due to revenue losses and the consumer shift away from stores to online during the Covid-19 pandemic. These include M&STM LewinBoots, and WHSmith.

In response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s updated job protection schemes to replace the current furlough offering, Wolfson shared his concerns about the future of the UK economy.

Under the new scheme, announced in a statement to Parliament yesterday, the government and employers will together top up the salaries of workers who have been forced into part-time hours following the devastating economic impact of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Wolfson suggested employers should begin to pay a little more into the schemes, while employees should receive a little less, otherwise the economy risks becoming “hooked” on these government financial handouts. He noted that Next has less than 10% of its staff on the current furlough scheme and Wolfson doubted the company would need to use the new financial aids as Next approaches Christmas peak.

In the interview, he also said high streets and city centres will have to change to meet the changing habits of the consumer. He said landlords’ investments in property is the only way to regenerate these town centres.