Double whammy for Northampton town centre as WH Smith and River Island sound alarm bells
and live on Freeview channel 276
Clothing store River Island only moved into the 11,000 square-feet former site of WH Smith last November on two floors of the Grosvenor Centre.
Smiths relocated to a vacant unit on the ground floor of the shopping centre last summer.
But River Island has reportedly become the latest fashion retailer considering calling in administrators or doing a deal with creditors as the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on trading.
Leading trade journal Retail Week claims River Island is seeking cut costs by closing some of its 300-plus stores and slashing rents on others after operating profits tumbled from £80.6million to £35.1m even before the lockdown, according to the company's latest financial update in September 2019.
WH Smith — which also has a store in Weston Favell Shopping centre — confirmed plans to restructure its UK operations and cut up to 1,500 jobs as bosses said its recovery from lockdown has been “slow”.
The 228-year-old bookseller and stationers — which which made a £155million profit last year — said it would start consulting with staff over a need to reduce costs as usually lucrative sites in airports and train stations have been hit by low passenger numbers.
Group chief executive Carl Cowling said: “As a result of the impact on passenger numbers and lower footfall on the UK high street, we have taken the difficult decision to review our store operations across both our travel and high street businesses,” WHSmith said in its trading update this morning.
“We are now starting a collective consultation on a proposed restructure which could lead to up to c.1500 roles becoming redundant.
“This has been a very difficult decision and we are committed to supporting all our colleagues throughout this process and ensuring it is conducted fairly."