In a ferociously competitive environment awash with cost pressures, shops need to fulfil two functions.

They need to serve shoppers more effectively, and the economic model needs to stack up.

That’s the context in which job losses and restructuring of roles at Tesco and John Lewis should be seen.

Tesco explained the decision to axe 1,700 deputy manager positions in its Express convenience stores as a way of improving service.

The deputy managers will be replaced by 3,300 shift leaders. That means, the grocer said, there will be “more of our colleagues on the shop floor, more often”.

“Paying attention to serving customers better should make the stores more successful – vital in the current environment as online shopping grows and rivals are recovering”

It makes sense. In busy c-stores, where shoppers want to grab their goods and get out, availability and speedy service from visible staff make a difference.

Paying attention to serving customers better should make the stores more successful – vital in the current environment as online shopping grows and rivals are recovering.

It’s a similar story at John Lewis, where improved productivity is a priority, and more than 700 staff in its catering and estimation departments are in consultation, although 386 new roles will be created.

“These proposals will allow us to modernise our business as it adapts to the changing needs of our customers and the role that shops play in their lives,” John Lewis operations director Dino Rocos said.

It was a telling phrase, blunt recognition that for shops to remain successful they cannot remain the same. As at Tesco, the aim is to run a tighter ship that better caters for customers.

Keeping the customer satisfied – and making money doing it – is harder than ever.

Few people relish cutting jobs but, assuming the changes deliver for shoppers, the painful decisions by John Lewis and Tesco are the right ones.

Boohoo blazes a trail

Hats off to fashion etailer Boohoo, which this week said sales and earnings will come in at the top of expectations.

Only two years ago Boohoo was warning on profits just months after its IPO.

But its recovery ever since is testament to the verve and determination of co-founders and joint chief executives Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane.

It is a case study in etail success with 5.1 million active customers – a 31% increase on the previous year – and up to 100 new pieces go on sale on its site every day.

And, following the acquisitions of Prettylittlething and Nasty Gal, it looks well placed for continued growth including internationally.

Boohoo is developing its people and new employment opportunities too. In its last interim results the retailer said it had run “several large-scale training and development programmes as part of our up-skilling and retention policy”.

The total permanent workforce at that time was 1,235, up from 1,015 six months earlier.

While some established retailers may be suffering tough times, it’s great to see a new generation of businesses thriving – and creating jobs as well as profit.