Pizza Express – 1,100 jobs
7 September: The restaurant chain confirms the closure of 73 restaurants as part of a rescue restructure deal.
Costa Coffee – 1,650 jobs
3 September: The company, which was bought by Coca-Cola two years ago, is cutting up to 1,650 jobs in its cafes, more than one in 10 of its workforce. The assistant store manager role will go across all shops.
Pret a Manger – 2,890 jobs
27 August: The majority of the cuts are focused on the sandwich chain’s shop workers, but 90 roles will be lost in its support centre teams. The cuts include the 1,000 job losses announced on 6 July.
Marks & Spencer – 7,000 jobs
18 August: Food, clothing and homewares retailer cuts jobs in central support centre, regional management and stores.
M&Co – 400 jobs
5 August: M&Co, the Renfrewshire-based clothing retailer, formerly known as Mackays, will close 47 of 215 stores.
WH Smith – 1,500 jobs
5 August: The chain, which sells products ranging from sandwiches to stationery, will cut jobs mainly in UK railway stations and airports.
Dixons Carphone – 800 jobs
4 August: Electronics retailer Dixons Carphone is cutting 800 managers in its stores as it continues to reduce costs.
DW Sports – 1,700 jobs at risk
3 August: DW Sports fell into administration, closing its retail website immediately and risking the closure of its 150 gyms and shops.
Marks & Spencer – 950 jobs
20 July: The high street stalwart cuts management jobs in stores as well as head office roles related to property and store operations.
Ted Baker – 500 jobs
19 July: About 200 roles to go at the fashion retailer’s London headquarters, the Ugly Brown Building, and the remainder at stores.
Azzurri – 1,200 jobs
17 July: The owner of the Ask Italian and Zizzi pizza chains closes 75 restaurants and makes its Pod lunch business delivery only
Burberry – 500 jobs worldwide
15 July: Total includes 150 posts in UK head offices as luxury brand tries to slash costs by £55m after a slump in sales during the pandemic.
Boots – 4,000 jobs
9 July: Boots is cutting 4,000 jobs – or 7% of its workforce – by closing 48 opticians outlets and reducing staff at its head office in Nottingham as well as some management and customer service roles in stores.
John Lewis – 1,300 jobs
9 July: John Lewis announced that it is planning to permanently close eight of its 50 stores, including full department stores in Birmingham and Watford, with the likely loss of 1,300 jobs.
Celtic Manor – 450 jobs
9 July: Bosses at the Celtic Collection in Newport, which staged golf’s Ryder Cup in 2010 and the 2014 Nato Conference, said 450 of its 995 workers will lose their jobs.
Pret a Manger – 1,000 jobs
6 July: Pret a Manger is to permanently close 30 branches and could cut at least 1,000 jobs after suffering “significant operating losses” as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown
Casual Dining Group – 1,900 jobs
2 July: The owner of the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas restaurant chains collapsed into administration, with the immediate loss of 1,900 jobs. The company said multiple offers were on the table for parts of the business but buyers did not want to acquire all the existing sites and 91 of its 250 outlets would remain permanently closed.
Arcadia – 500 jobs
1 July: Arcadia, Sir Philip Green’s troubled fashion group – which owns Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Evans and Wallis – said in July 500 head office jobs out of 2,500 would go in the coming weeks.
SSP Group – 5,000 jobs
1 July: The owner of Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza is to axe 5,000 jobs, about half of its workforce, with cuts at its head office and across its UK operations after the pandemic stalled domestic and international travel.
Harrods – 700 jobs
1 July: The department store group is cutting one in seven of its 4,800 employees because of the “ongoing impacts” of the pandemic.
Harveys – 240 jobs
30 June: Administrators made 240 redundancies at the furniture chain Harveys, with more than 1,300 jobs at risk if a buyer cannot be found.
TM Lewin – 600 jobs
30 June: Shirtmaker TM Lewin closed all 66 of its outlets permanently, with the loss of about 600 jobs.
Monsoon Accessorize – 545 jobs
11 June: The fashion brands were bought out of administration by their founder, Peter Simon, in June, in a deal in which 35 stores closed permanently and 545 jobs were lost.
Mulberry – 470 jobs
8 June: The luxury fashion and accessories brand is to cut 25% of its global workforce and has started a consultation with the 470 staff at risk.
The Restaurant Group – 3,000 jobs
3 June: The owner of dining chains such as Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s has closed most branches of Chiquito and all 11 of its Food & Fuel pubs, with another 120 restaurants to close permanently. Total job losses could reach 3,000.
Clarks – 900 jobs
21 May: Clarks plans to cut 900 office jobs worldwide as it grapples with the growth of online shoe shopping as well as the pandemic.
Oasis and Warehouse – 1,800 jobs
30 April: The fashion brands were bought out of administration by the restructuring firm Hilco in April, with all of their stores permanently closed and 1,800 jobs lost.
Cath Kidston – 900 jobs
21 April: More than 900 jobs were cut immediately at the retro retail label Cath Kidston after the company said it was permanently closing all 60 of its UK stores.
Debenhams – 4,000 jobs
9 April: At least 4,000 jobs will be lost at Debenhams in its head office and closed stores after its collapse into administration in April, for the second time in a year.
Laura Ashley – 2,700 jobs
17 March: Laura Ashley collapsed into administration, with 2,700 job losses, and said rescue talks had been thwarted by the pandemic.
‘In the early days of Covid-19, we stopped consuming and rather loved it. But it didn’t stick.’ | Australian lifestyle
This week I found myself thinking back to early-Covid. The globe had been suspended in an eerie pause and many of us were given the most unique of opportunities: time and space to have a good, hard look at ourselves and what mattered.
Do you remember what we did? We stopped consuming. And we really rather loved it.
In April discretionary spending dropped by 30% in Australia. In early May 52% of us told the researchers behind the BCG’s Global Consumer Sentiment survey that we planned to “reduce spending on luxury products even after the crisis is over”. We told others that, post-pandemic, we’d focus spending on meaningful, simple experiences with each other and buy less stuff.
On late-night Zoom rants we lamented our crassly rampant consumerism. The glossy black 4WD sitting idle in the driveway suddenly seemed so cringingly redundant. Ditto the idea of buying fancy shoes. Or that terrazzo flooring.
I’m a seasoned minimalist; I’ve lived out of one carry-on backpack for years at a time and previously sceptical neighbours and friends reached out to tell me they got it now, this simpler life business. They felt liberated and hopeful. Coronavirus was a gift, went the memes.
The planet rewarded our efforts, too. Carbon emissions dropped at a rate not seen since 1945 and – oh, glory be! – dolphins returned to the canals of Venice. There’s hope, cried my new frugally-enthused friends, tagging me on their ‘The Planet Heals Itself’ tiles.
Madonna told us from her bath, with Steven Pinker-like zeal, that this pandemic business was going to be the “Great Equaliser”. It would unify us; viruses don’t distinguish colour or creed. It was a beautiful thing and I think we almost felt proud of ourselves. We were finally doing right by each other and the planet.
But it didn’t stick. And this truth has been hammered home as we start the new year.
By early June we were spending like mad people, back to pre-pandemic levels. Consumer confidence reports released on 12 January showed spending on goods went up 13.3% year on year, and consumer confidence was at a 13-month high. The ground we made paying off debt in that utopian blip at the beginning of the pandemic was undone as we stuffed ourselves in an orgy of click frenzies and Black Fridays.
There was no “meaningful experiences” shift; the bulk of spending went on clothing, electronics and out-and-out stuff (in November, Commonwealth Bank research showed department store spending went up 21.1%).
There were also no dolphins. They were just another 2020 hoax.
The trend has played out globally. As lockdown eased in China, stuff-spending went through the roof of the mall. The government ordained a “double five” shopping festival, with nationwide extended store opening hours. By the end of the year, luxury spending had soared 48%, reversing a small drop in 2019.
And all that dreamy equalising? Late last year, the World Bank released figures showing extreme poverty was on the rise (so are starving children and famines), for the first time in more than 20 years. Days later a UBS report showed worldwide billionaire wealth had hit a record high … due to Covid. By December the world’s billionaires saw their wealth go up 27%. In Australia it went up 52%.
The planet, ever consistent, responded in kind. Carbon dioxide emissions spiked, and there we were again bludgeoned with an ugly reflection: a report last week awarded 2020 the title of hottest year on record, in spite of the cooling La Nina influence. By December we learned man made materials now outweigh all life on earth.
Bluntly: we went horribly backwards.
But let’s return to that wistful, hopeful time in April. Of dolphins and bike lanes and sourdough. From the discussions I was having as I finished the final pages of a book that targeted the issue, the bulk of us truly hoped Covid was a deus ex machina moment that would free us from “it all”.
It’s 2021; can we call it as it is? Drop the C-bomb? We were hoping to be freed from capitalism. To be airlifted from the more-more-more cycle we know doesn’t stack up and makes us miserable. We know how to add and subtract. We know that if you consume, consume, consume, stuff runs out … and Australians now consume the resources of 4.56 planet earths.
So why do we feel we can’t free ourselves? Why do we want to be blissfully rescued by a virus-slash-gift from above? It’s because we feel trapped in it. Like a cult.
By all official definitions, capitalism is a cult.
We genuinely believe ads (propaganda) that tell us we need six pairs of Boohoo track pants or an oversized black SUV (to be saved from irrelevance, emptiness). We unquestioningly accept messages (brainwashing) that success is about “getting ahead on the property ladder”, which then further props up the system. Covid recovery is repeatedly referenced in terms of prodding “consumer confidence” so that we may stimulate this almighty God/Guru/One we call the economy (tellingly, such language suggests an inherent frailty). Then we make payments (sacrifices), trading our future to do it, even if we go into debt in the process. Soon enough we’re thoroughly beholden (to credit card repayments and Afterpay).
To my mind, we become so trapped in the cult that we struggle to imagine how to release ourselves, or a better world beyond it.
But we are going to have to.
With full awareness of the glorious irony, I quote Milton Friedman: “Only a crisis produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.” He adds: “That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
Me, I reckon the ongoing, mutating nature of this pandemic provides us with the best opportunity to develop these better ideas and policies and scatter them about the place.
When I drop the C-bomb, I’m often told I must be a communist, like it’s 1963 and there’s only one alternative available. I agree with the many economists opining on this now, that there’s not enough time to overhaul the system entirely. But there’s oodles of scope to work wisely and compassionately from within, to pull back and get objective, creative and kinder.
As it turns out socialist ideas have a lot to offer. We saw many serve us wonderfully during the pandemic. We can choose to stick to those ideas we came to like, such as free childcare and fairer jobseeker payments, as well as the greenish stuff like not travelling to interstate trade shows, and riding bikes.
Within the current model, we can buy food that is farmed regeneratively and halve food wastage, which Project Drawdown lists as #3 in the top 100 Co2-reducing shifts we can make. Reversing food waste habits would also provide enough food to feed the world.
We could embrace doughnut or degrowth economics, forms of modelling that meet everyone’s need within Earth’s biophysical limit. It sees us work fewer hours in exchange for more home production and leisure – we grow veggie gardens, and attend to our health, thus reducing all kinds of social costs. It’s not about sustainable fashion, but a new aesthetic of “sufficiency”. Less would see us have to recycle, repair, reuse and join the sharing economy, which builds community.
Governments would ban “planned obsolescence” practices, corporations would have to produce repairable phones, and fashion stores would sell upcycled versions of their ranges, which incentivises making quality garments that last.
Covid has been no Great Equaliser. But is has been a Great Revealer, that will keep on exposing what’s entrapping and sad and destructive in our lives.
It’s worth casting our mind back to early Covid and the hope, lightness and connection we felt as we go forward into the abject uncertainty of 2021. Because, and here’s the Great Revelation in it all, that was us. That was who we are.
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