River Island is axing 250 head office roles in a bid to reduce costs following the fall in sales triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequently reduced footfall.

In an internal email sent to staff seen by Retail Week, River Island boss Will Kernan said the business will “now have a requirement for some 250 fewer people in the business”.

Retail Week understands these redundancies will be made across all the retailer’s head office departments.

Kernan wrote: “The pandemic will change our marketplace for years to come, so we have acted quickly to reassess our structure, affordability and strategy.

“As a business, we need to be more flexible and, critically, we must remain financially viable despite the potential of significantly reduced sales in the short term.”

Affected staff will be informed today if their roles are at risk.

River Island operates 300 stores worldwide and, like many businesses, has been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic and closures of non-essential stores.

The retailer introduced a slew of measures to reduce costs during the pandemic including furloughing the majority of staff during the lockdown, a recruitment freeze and temporary pay reductions across the business.

 “This is a hard decision that I am saddened to make but it is a necessary one to ensure a sustainable future for this business and our remaining teams as we reset our ambitions,” Kernan said.

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