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CoronavirusHigh Street

Thousands of ‘traditional’ retail jobs in danger, says Next boss

Next boss Simon Wolfson warned that thousands of “traditional” retail jobs are now in danger under the chancellor’s new “viability” focus.

Speaking in an interview with BBC News’ business editor Simon Jack, Lord Wolfson said he did “not want to underestimate the difficulty” for “a lot of people who work in retail.”

The increasingly online nature of the UK retail economy is a crucial factor in many in-store jobs now seeming “unviable”, according to Wolfson.

But the Conservative life peer did confirm his support for the new “Job Support Scheme.”

He said: “I think it’s important employers begin to pay a little bit more for these schemes, and employees get a little bit less, because otherwise I think there’s a risk our economy will just become hooked on it.”

Next, he added, currently have less than 10% of staff on furlough and expects that by the end October, it will not need further government support.

Lord Wolfson also said that the predicted boost from Christmas shoppers starting mid-autumn would allow the fashion and homeware retailer to keep on all current staff.

Looking forward, the boss emphasised that recruitment at Next would continue in jobs related to its online department – in call centres, warehouses and distribution centres.

When questioned by Jack on whether retailers should be allowed to default on rent, Lord Wolfson focused on the long-term stakes.

He said: “If our town and city centres are going to regenerate, it is only going to be from the investment that landlords make in those properties.

“Retailers must stick to rent agreements to give landlords confidence to invest in the future.”

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