Stationery chain Ryman has placed a number of shop floor and head office workers on consultation amid ongoing Covid restrictions across England.
The high street giant, which was founded in 1883 and is run by Dragons Den businessman Theo Paphitis, told staff their jobs are at risk in January as the company entered consultation talks.
In a letter sent to thousands of employees – and seen by Mirror Money – Paphitis said the decision is “tough” but necessary to keep the business trading “for decades to come”.
He said that a growth in online sales during the first and second Covid lockdowns have not been enough to compensate for losses across the chain’s 200 high street stores.
Jobs at risk are predominantly shop floor workers and head office employees, he said.
Paphitis told workers the business is “committed” to finding roles elsewhere for those affected.
A Ryman spokeswoman told Mirror Money the business has launched consultations with workers in mostly city centre locations. Staff entered consultation on January 27.
“Like many retailers, with a significant retail footprint, we are working hard to get through another lockdown and this means scrutiny of every aspect of our business,” a statement said.
“We have started consultation on some roles, particularly in City Centre locations where we have seen the biggest declines in activity.
“However, we are now in a consultation period, so we will not be commenting on this further at this time.”
One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said the decision “will have a devastating effect on all the employees” at a time when many are already struggling financially due to Covid.
A letter – sent to him and other colleagues – said: “I am writing to confirm that following the business announcement made on 27th January 2021, your role is at risk of redundancy.
“As such, we have entered into formal consultation with you over the business proposals affecting your role and your potential redundancy.”
It said staff will be placed on consultation for a minimum of 45 days.
“We will be working with store managers to review the proposals on a store-by-store basis, to understand how many colleagues will be needed and which shift patterns are required for optimum trading and customer service.
“The ideal operating model could result in a number of changes for colleagues; each store and colleague will be affected differently – it could be a change in shift patterns, a reduction of hours or, in cases where no other option is viable, redundancy.”
“During the consultation period, recruitment will be on hold, except for business-critical roles which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
A spokesman said the consultations will affect staff in administrative roles amid a continued slump in cash transactions.
Chief executive Roger Burnley said the decision will “transform” the business.
It joins job cuts at John Lewis, Prezzo, Heineken and Easyjet in the past month, while Debenhams and retail empire Arcadia have disappeared from the high street completely since Christmas.