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Swedish retail giant H&M cuts 20% of jobs from COS brand HQ

World’s second biggest fashion group H&M is to cut up to 20% of head office staff from its COS brand

Shop window dummies are displayed at a COS-Store in Berlin, Germany.


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The world’s second biggest fashion group Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is to cut up to 20% of head office staff from its COS brand, MarketWatch has learned.

On Monday the Swedish fashion giant held a meeting informing staff based at the brand’s head office in London that there would be some “big changes,” according to one source.

A day later H&M
HM.B,
+2.95%

outlined a new structure and informed workers, including designers and pattern cutters, which roles would be affected.

They were told the company needed “an even more agile, fast-paced and efficient organization” able to adapt to changing customer habits and the shift to online sales.

H&M did not confirm the number of employees that could be made redundant but a COS spokesman confirmed to MarketWatch “we will reduce the overall number of roles” in part of the organization.

Read: H&M’s Transformation Could Turn Heads as Retailers Battle a Shakeout

Retail chains have been hit hard by coronavirus as customers stay home in lockdown and Governments banned the opening of some stores. Sales have fallen off a cliff with some groups collapsing into administration. Brooks Brothers has followed J Crew and Neiman Marcus into bankruptcy protection.

Others have been forced to cut jobs as Walgreens Boots
WBA,
+1.09%

announced plans last week to cut over 4,000 jobs at its Boots pharmacy chain and fashion group Burberry
BRBY,
-5.61%

launched a cost saving drive on Wednesday with the loss of 500 jobs.

“We have proposed several changes to our London head office and Europe region organization,” said the COS spokesman. “We are making new roles available whilst also removing and diminishing select roles. Our aim is to find a suitable alternative role within the brand for as many affected colleagues as possible and have a thorough consultation process in place.”

Read:H&M says “tens of thousands” of employees likely to be affected by temporary layoffs, permanent layoffs also being discussed

COS sells modern and functional designs from 299 stores in 45 countries, and its websites. The brand head office has been located in the Holborn area of central London since being former in 2007, and employs 300 people, with approximately 100 working on design, pattern cutting and buying across men’s, women’s and children’s wear.

The source said staff were told up to 20% would be cut which means as many as 60 employees are at risk of losing their jobs.

The spokesman said: “The COS brand will enter a new phase of transformation in Summer 2020. Like everybody in the industry, we must adapt to the ongoing changes in the retail landscape and will therefore take steps to review and develop all areas of the business including the organization structure.

“Our transformation is ongoing in all parts of the business and many functions have already taken steps, for example changing into new regional organization structures, introducing new ways of working, changing roles and responsibilities. This is a step-by-step transformation journey with a long-term focus.”

The job cuts come just days after H&M announced a plan to close 170 stores as sales dropped by a quarter in June due to the impact of the pandemic. It typically has an annual program of store closures and openings and also plans to open 130 new stores.

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