Department store group Fenwick has announced plans to restructure its operations following a review of the business by new CEO Robbie Feather, prompting fears of impending job losses.
The business, which has flagship stores in Newcastle and London’s Bond Street, as well as stores in six other locations, such as York, Kingston upon Thames and Brent Cross, employs more than 2,000 staff. It is not yet known how many staff might be affected by any changes.
Until now the business has allowed its stores to be run autonomously by store managers, but Feather, who joined the business from Argos last November, is looking to centralise some operations and to introduce e-commerce.
“Fenwick has […] announced a proposal to modernise and reorganise the business, moving to a functionally-led structure while retaining our local focus. These proposals are part of a broader strategy to modernise the business and to invest in both Fenwick’s multichannel offer – including IT upgrades and e-commerce – and its flagship Newcastle store,” a spokesperson confirmed.
Staff are currently in a period of consultation with the retailer and once this has been completed, Fenwick will reveal how many jobs have been affected, but Feather has told local press in Newcastle that there will also be some new opportunities presented as a result of its investment in IT and e-commerce.
Feather became the first non-Fenwick family member to take up the position of CEO of the business. His arrival in November followed the appointment of Richard Pennycook, formerly of the Co-op, as chairman earlier in 2017. Pennycook’s arrival was precipitated by the decision of Mark Fenwick to step down from the role of chairman, after which group trading director Hugo Fenwick and managing director Adam Fenwick both stepped down from their roles. The Fenwick family has headed up the business since 1882.
Feather had been commercial director at Argos and prior to that held senior roles with Sainsbury’s and John Lewis. He made his name in retail as the founder of furniture retailer Feather & Black where he worked for 10 years before moving to John Lewis.