Harvey Nichols to cut up to 70 jobs at Edinburgh store

One of Scotland’s highest profile luxury retailers is expected to cut scores of jobs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Harvey Nichols store is widely credited with helping to transform Edinburgh's retail offering.The Harvey Nichols store is widely credited with helping to transform Edinburgh's retail offering.
The Harvey Nichols store is widely credited with helping to transform Edinburgh's retail offering.

Harvey Nichols, the upmarket department store famous for its designer brands, is set to shed as many as 70 jobs at its Edinburgh outlet as part of a restructuring process, The Scotsman understands.

In a sign that high-end retailers are not immune from the economic storm which is reshaping the high street and leading to widespread job losses, the company confirmed that it may need to take the “difficult decision” to “potentially make a number of redundancies.”

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Staff at the store have said it has already seen several luxury concessions, such as Elemis, Electric Hair, and Hacket, pulling out.

Sources said that the programme of cuts is expected to impact every area of the St Andrews Square outlet, from its retail departments to the dining and hospitality offerings on the fourth floor.

One staff member, who did not wish to be named, said that as well as employees, the restructuring process will result in the store’s senior management team being downsized.

The staff member explained: "Being made redundant is a difficult experience for all employees involved, especially at this time of year with Christmas on the horizon. It puts financial pressure on each individual, with some even having feelings of betrayal towards the company having worked there for many years.

"You'd expect a business like Harvey Nichols to be strong and get through the pandemic but it just shows there is no business safe in these unprecedented times.

“We just feel let down by the company, some of the employees have given so many years of their lives to the company to then just be let go or forced to take voluntary redundancies."

It was reported last month that the department store chain had drafted in restructuring experts from PwC to examine the viability of the store estate in light of the pandemic, as well as its financing requirements.

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The company posted sales of £91m in the 12 months to the end of March 2019 with pre-tax profits of £2.7m. But chief executive Manju Malhotra warned in July that the pandemic had “changed the shape of the business.”

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The capital store, the company’s only branch in Scotland, is widely regarded as one of the brightest lights in the city’s retail offering.

Since it opened in 2002 - a grand event with stardust provided by the actor, Ewan McGregor - the £10m store has been widely credited as the catalyst which revitalised the city’s shopping experience.

In a statement, the company said: “As a result of Covid-19, Harvey Nichols may need to take the difficult decision to potentially make a number of redundancies.

“However, everything is being done to avoid this or minimise the number of employees affected.

“The store is open with safety measures in line with government guidance and we remain focused on continuing to evolve our brand mix, hospitality offer and in-store services.”

It added: “Harvey Nichols has a strong historic relationship with Edinburgh, which plays an important role in the Harvey Nichols group portfolio.”

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