• Marks & Spencer to axe 500 head office jobs
  • Cull equates to around 15% of roles at its Paddington HQ
  • Comes off the back of a separate dispute over pay and benefits of shop floor staff

Marks & Spencer boss Steve Rowe will wield the axe on 500 head office jobs this week as he steps up his bid to turn around the business.

The retailer, which is battling to transform the fortunes of its fashion and homewares division, is poised to slash around 15% of roles at its Paddington headquarters, although it is thought that more than half of the cuts will affect contractors.

The changes – set to be revealed by M&S on Thursday – come hot off the heels of a public row over pay and conditions of its shopfloor staff.

On Friday, M&S unveiled details of a “significantly improved” pay deal for its staff following a consultation with employees, pledging that all employees will now either benefit from higher pay or have the “opportunity” to maintain their present pay level.

The retailer had come under pressure to rethink changes that would have seen some of its lowest-paid workers lose their perks and premiums for working Sundays and bank holidays.

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh delivered a petition with more than 90,000 signatures to M&S the previous day.

Turnaround plan

The cull in head office jobs, which were reported by Sky News, will come as Rowe grapples to rejuvenate the high-street stalwart’s fortunes.

The former M&S Saturday boy, who took the reins from Marc Bolland earlier this year, is expected to unveil his long-term strategy for the business in November.

City analysts expect Rowe to streamline the retailer’s store estate as it fights to compete with online rivals and the likes of Primark, H&M and Zara, which have stolen a march on the business in the hotly contested fashion sector.

M&S posted the sharpest like-for-like decline in its clothing business for more than a decade in the 13 weeks to July 2, as sales plummeted almost 9%.

An M&S spokeswoman said: “We said at our full-year results in May that organisation was an area of the business that needed further consideration and that we would update on this in the autumn.

“We would never comment on rumour and speculation and have nothing further to add.”