M&S Said to Plan Hundreds of Job Cuts as Pressure Mounts on Rowe

U.K. clothing retailer Marks & Spencer Group Plc is set to cut about 500 jobs at its London headquarters, according to a person familiar with the matter.

An announcement could come as early as this week, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter is private.

The planned cuts -- which would equate to about 15 percent of head-office roles -- come amid mounting pressure on Chief Executive Officer Steve Rowe, who replaced Marc Bolland five months ago. Rowe is scheduled to outline his plans for the retailer’s struggling international division and its U.K. store portfolio at M&S’s interim results on Nov. 9. The company reported an 8.9 percent drop in clothing sales in its most recent quarter.

An M&S spokeswoman declined to comment on potential job cuts. The retailer said at its full-year results in May that organization was an area that needed further consideration and that an update would be given in the fall, she said. Sky News reported on Sept. 3 that more than half the 500 cuts would affect contractors.

In addition to a slump in sales, M&S is among retailers that are grappling with the cost of complying with the new national living wage, which came into force this year and will increase gradually through 2020.

Following criticism from lawmakers and a consultation with worker representatives, the retailer last week announced plans to compensate some workers for a loss of earnings resulting from a reduction in premium pay for anti-social hours.

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