Fresh fears for local jobs in retail sector

There are fresh fears for jobs in Derry following the announcement that Marks and Spencer are to shed up to 950 posts across the UK.
Eason’s bookshop in the Foyleside shopping Centre. DER2029GS - 006Eason’s bookshop in the Foyleside shopping Centre. DER2029GS - 006
Eason’s bookshop in the Foyleside shopping Centre. DER2029GS - 006

In a further blow to the local retail sector, Thorntons is also facing the threat of closure and the Disney Pop-Up store has already closed.

Just last week, a number of jobs were lost with the closure of all Easons stores in the North.

This included the one in Foyleside Shopping Centre.

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A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said the company aims to ‘create a new retail management structure that is fit for the future – removing role duplication, providing clearer leadership accountabilities and freeing up its retail teams to focus more on the customer’.

The spokesperson added: “The proposed changes would affect 950 roles across central support functions in field and central operations and property and store management.

“M&S has now started collective consultation with its employee representative group and has set out its intention to first offer voluntary redundancy to affected colleagues.”

They were unable to comment specifically on how the two M&S stores locally may be affected by the announcement.

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Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Thorntons confirmed that the Foyleside based shop is ‘under consideration for closure’.

It is understood there is one full time employee in the shop and part-time members of staff.

The spokesperson said: “We are committed to transforming and growing the iconic Thorntons brand and continue to implement our strategic plan.

“As a business that has been part of the UK retail footprint for over a century, we continuously review our store estate, store locations and our infrastructure to ensure it is fit for current and future customers.

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“We can confirm that this store is under consideration for closure, but cannot provide further details as we are in a live consultation.”

Disney has confirmed that the pop-up store in Derry has closed and customers can continue to buy their products online.

A spokesperson for the Disney Store said: “Disney constantly evaluates its Disney Store portfolio as a normal part of doing business to ensure we’re in the right sites to be able to provide the best experiences for our customers.”

The manager of Foyleside Shopping Centre, Fergal Rafferty, said that some recent store closures have been part of companies ‘exit strategy from the High Street over the past number of years as trends in their particular sector have changed’.

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He said the centre ‘will remain close to full occupancy as shoppers and shopping trends adapt and change post Covid -19.’

Mr Rafferty welcomed the recent reopening of Monsoon and said that McDonald’s and Costa are to open again imminently.

He added that the average spend has increased when people are shopping as they are making less frequent visits.