Selfridges will be cutting 14% of its headcount – around 450 jobs – in a move that managing director Ann Pitcher said was “the toughest decision we have ever had to take”.

In a letter to staff, Pitcher said 2020 would “be the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history” and sales across the chain would be “significantly less than they were in 2019”.

Pitcher said whether staff were furloughed or not would have no bearing on whether their role was cut as part of the consultation, which will begin tomorrow and comprise additional measures ranging from more flexible and part-time work to voluntary redundancy.

“How we work, shop and socialise is changing,” she said. “Of course, our high streets were changing rapidly before Covid-19 arrived. As a creative business at the forefront of retail, we have a proud history of leading the way; however, the speed and magnitude of what is happening right now and the impact on trading, means we must make some more fundamental changes to our organisation to stay ahead and realise a more sustainable future.”

Selfridges also plans pause various project and initiatives across the business and review all non-essential expenses in a bid to further streamline costs.

It said it would strengthen “areas of our business that have become even more important to our customers since the pandemic such as digital, sustainability and experiences”.

Selfridges is the latest retailer to make significant job cuts in the wake of coronavirus pandemic including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Boots.