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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK

Business: The Company File

More jobs go at M&S

M&S: more price cuts to come?

Marks & Spencer, the troubled UK retail chain, has confirmed it is to cut 290 store management jobs -- prompting renewed speculation of a price war on the High Street.

The plan means that about one in eight of M&S' store managers will leave the group.

BBC News' Sarah Boxhall reports on the moves to turn M&S around
The move forms part of a radical restructuring plan put in motion by M&S' new chief executive Peter Salsbury in an effort to revive the group's ailing fortunes on the High Street.

As well as the management cuts, M&S is expected to transfer many of its administrative staff to new jobs dealing directly with customers as it tries to improve its service.

Turmoil at the top

The latest move comes just months after M&S said it was removing a total of 230 senior managers at its Baker Street head offices, including three board executives.

Retail analyst Robert Clark: M&S getting rid of underperformers
However, the latest round of job cuts could be only the beginning, with more of M&S' 60,000 workforce affected.

M&S is expected to announce a poor set of results next week, because of a slump in demand for its products. Analysts now believe that M&S will be forced to cut prices sharply, a move which could trigger a High Street price war.

M&S refused to comment on its plans - but did say that job cuts were an inevitable part of its restructuring plans.

Profit warning

M&S stunned the City in January with a shock profits warning. Its new product lines had proved unpopular with customers and it had also been hit by a slowdown in consumer demand.

In the wake of the profit warning, Sir Richard Greenbury decided to step down as chief executive. Then Keith Oates, the group's former deputy chairman, left M&S after a bitter battle with Mr Salsbury over who should succeed Sir Richard.

The latest job cuts are expected to save the company £10m.

"We have reviewed store management structures and identified some areas of duplication, overlap and unnecessary management layers within individual stores," said Mr Salsbury in a statement.

"This takes us a step closer to ensuring we have the right structure for the future of our business," he added.

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