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Harvey Nichols appoints advisers as lack of tourists hits business

Lauretta Roberts
24 August 2020

Harvey Nichols is reported to have appointed advisers from PwC as the COVID-19 crisis and lack of tourist footfall takes its toll on the business.

The luxury department store chain has reopened four of its eight UK and Ireland sites since lockdown in London's Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds.

Reopening dates have yet to be announced for Dublin, Bristol, Birmingham and Liverpool. Its empire also includes the OXO Tower restaurant, which has also reopened.

According to The Sunday Times, PwC will be advising Harvey Nichols on the "viability of its store estate and financing requirements".

The department store has already advised its staff that it will be carrying out a number of redundancies but the scale of this exercise is not yet known.

In an email to staff last month CEO Manju Malhotra said the crisis could change the shape of the business and pledged that it would keep any job cuts to a minimum. “We value each of our employees and their contribution to the business and are doing everything we can to avoid or minimise the number of redundancies,” she said.

Harvey Nichols employs around 1,500 staff and is far from alone, among the bid department stores, in having to make tough decisions.

Harrods is in the process of cutting 14% of its workforce, amounting to 750 jobs, while Selfridges had revealed it would be cutting 450 staff. Liberty is also believed to be in consultation with its staff.

The lack of tourism in central London, along with office workers staying at home, has meant the footfall in the centre of London has been hammered post lockdown with the luxury industry particularly badly hit.

Luxury industry trade body Walpole has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden to urge the Government to step in and support the sector and do more to encourage tourists to return to the capital.

In the letter Walpole CEO Helen Brocklebank said: “The pandemic has caused on average a 60% decline in sector revenue over the first 6 months of the year and it faces grave economic consequences unless all potential economic levers are used to support a return to growth.”

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