Retail NI comments on WH Smith jobs cut and warns of high street emergency

Retail NI comments on WH Smith jobs cut and warns of high street emergency

Retailer WH Smith plans to cut up to 1,500 jobs across the UK after a loss of sales during lockdown.

As a result of the pandemic, the retailer expects losses of £70-75 million before the end of August.

Commenting on the news, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Whilst we don’t have the detail of the impact for WH Smith stores locally, it is very concerning that we have another major high street retailer cutting jobs as a result of the pandemic. Over the past few weeks I have visited over a dozen villages, towns and cities in Northern Ireland, speaking to local retailers who have told me of just how bad the situation is with dozens of businesses facing likely closure.

“We need to be very clear. It is no longer a high streets crisis; it is a high streets emergency and requires immediate action from the Executive,” Mr Roberts continued. 

“In my meeting with the deputy First Minister this week I outlined the need for the Executive to immediately establish a High Street Recovery Taskforce to bring a together government departments, councils and business to co-ordinate policy and agree an action plan. I will also be meeting with the First Minister on Friday to discuss this emergency further.

“We need Governments in Belfast and London to agree a ‘Marshall Plan’ of stimulus and recovery for our high streets, villages, towns and cities before irreversible damage is done to our local economy.”