Clarks axes 170 jobs just weeks before Christmas amid store closure warnings

High street chain Clarks has axed 170 jobs just weeks before Christmas, amid further fears of store closures.

The redundancies come following changes to its business operations under a newly appointed chief executive.

A total of 80 job cuts have been made at its headquarters in Street – with affected workers told the news on Friday – just three weeks before Christmas.

A spokeswoman confirmed 170 staff members will be made redundant and 80 of these workers are based in Street.

"Clarks has introduced changes to its business operations in order to support its brand strategy under the leadership of recently appointed CEO, Giorgio Presca," a statement explained.

"Today we have announced changes which affect the way our corporate teams across the world are structured which, regrettably, will result in approximately 170 colleagues leaving the business globally.

"We are committed to working with all those affected by this decision to support them throughout this transition.

"These changes do not impact our distribution centre operatives or stores."

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Giorgio Presca replaced Mike Shearwood as the chain's new chief executive officer in March this year.

Presca is responsible for all operational, financial and commercial aspects of the business and leads the Clarks strategy with the executive committee.

It was announced in November that its factory in Street would close, at a loss of dozens of jobs.

The firm, which opened the new "robot-assisted" technology factory in 2017, said it was because targets were not being met.

Earlier this year Clarks warned that store closures were also on the cards after its losses more than doubled.

The 194-year-old retailer, which has more than 1,000 branches worldwide, said it may be forced to axe more branches amid tumbling profits.

The latest accounts show sales fell 4.6% to £1.47billion, pushing losses from £31.3million to £82.9million in the past year.

Clarks has 1,000 shops globally, with 553 in the UK and Ireland.

Earlier this year, the retailer confirmed plans to axe its only remaining UK factory at a loss of dozens of jobs.

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