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Next CEO warns retail jobs have become “unviable” as online shopping increases

Sadiyah Ismailjee
25 September 2020

Next's CEO has warned that retail employment has become “unviable” due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted to a great shift in online shopping.

The retailer’s chief executive, Lord Wolfson said thousands of traditional retail jobs are likely to be under threat as customers are increasingly shopping online.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Wolfson said: “I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail. I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people.”

We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.”

“But we are taking on people in our call centres; we are training new recruits in our call centres, in our warehousing. Our distribution networks are taking on new employees.”

So there are new jobs and, in terms of finding where those opportunities are, the internet provides an amazing and powerful tool to connect employers with employees.”

Wolfson said almost 10% of Next’s staff remained on furlough and added “we don’t think we need” the new scheme.

However, he stressed other sectors will need support from the government, and called on businesses to consider surviving without government support.

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

The comments follows after Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed a new Jobs Support Scheme aimed at protecting “viable” roles as Covid-19 infections continue to rise across the UK.




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