Harvey Nichols Christmas 2019

Source: Harvey Nichols

It has taken the decision following declining sales and footfall 

Harvey Nichols could shed as many as 70 roles at its Edinburgh store in the latest blow to the high street due to coronavirus.

The luxury department store has taken the “difficult decision” to cut jobs across its retail, dining and hospitality teams, after the outbreak hit sales and footfall.

Harvey Nichols posted sales of £91m in the 12 months to the end of March 2019, with pre-tax profits of £2.7m, but COO Manju Malhotra warned in July that the outbreak of Covid-19 had “changed the shape of the business”.

The retailer would not confirm whether the redundancies came as part of its wider restructuring process, saying it “cannot comment further as decisions haven’t been finalised”.

This also follows reports from The Times that Harvey Nichols drafted in professional services firm PwC to examine its options. Harvey Nichols said it has had a partnership with the company for 15 years, and that PwC was helping it review “ongoing efficiencies” across the business.

The Edinburgh store is its only Scottish branch in a portfolio of eight across the UK and Ireland. It has only opened half of its stores since non-essential shops were permitted to reopen on 13 June.

“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,” a Harvey Nichols spokesman told The Grocer.

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

It is not the only luxury retailer to have been hit by the pandemic: Selfridges is making 14% of its workforce (about 450 people) redundant.