Fashion chain to cut 350 store manager jobs | Scottish travel agents...

Fashion chain to cut 350 store manager jobs | Scottish travel agents call for ‘urgent’ support | New rules for pubs and restaurants

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River Island is to cut 350 jobs as part of a major store management shake-up.

The high street fashion retailer told staff it intends to slash store management and senior sales roles as part of a restructure of its retail team.

The move comes just a month after it had already said it would cut 250 head office staff as part of cost-cutting measures.

READ MORE: Government warned ‘reckoning’ lies in store for Scottish business amid new demand for cash support

River Island has seen revenues and profitability hit by a slump in store footfall after reopening sites following the coronavirus lockdown.

Chief executive Will Kernan told staff in an internal memo that the changes will create a “flatter management structure with a greater emphasis on customer service”.

He said: “We need to make sure we have the right structures in place to deliver our omnichannel strategy, and to continue to deliver the amazing River Island in-store experience that our customers know and love.

“With a heavy heart, I can confirm that these changes will potentially impact up to 350 store management and senior sales roles.

“Whilst this is an incredibly difficult decision, these actions are crucial to ensure that our stores continue to effectively play their hugely important role in our omnichannel future.”

River Island has around 300 stores across the UK and has reportedly eyed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) or other form of insolvency to reduce its rent costs in a bid to save money.

Scottish travel agents’ representatives have called for greater support as quarantine restrictions were introduced for travellers from countries including France and the Netherlands.

It comes as travellers rushed to return home ahead of a quarantine deadline tomorrow.

READ MORE: Holiday group Tui reveals quarterly losses of nearly £1bn after travel shutdown but remains optimistic

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, called for regulated testing for those arriving in the country.

She said: “As an association we back all moves to keep individuals, and the wider country, safe. However, we’re hugely concerned about the lack of support for the travel sector throughout this pandemic.

“Travellers who are abroad in one of the newly removed ‘safe list’ countries or who have a forthcoming booking, are relying on their travel agents to aid their return home or to process the cancellation of their holiday.

“France is not a major package holiday destination for Scotland generally, but as city break destinations Paris and Amsterdam will cause immediate issues for travellers.

“Malta is a very popular destination for Scottish package holidays. Customer confidence in any form of travel is negligible at the moment. We’ve effectively seen an entire year of travel wiped out.

“Few if any are willing to travel with such uncertainty about which countries are on the ‘safe list’ at any given hour. Without some form of urgent support for the travel sector, the whole industry is at threat.

“We need a credible system of regulated testing for those arriving in the country to help rebuild customer confidence. A robust testing process will reduce the length of time required for quarantine for those arriving at all UK airports.

“Outbound travel contributes £37.1 billion in gross value added (GVA) which amounts to around 1.8% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) and it directly sustains 221,000 jobs according to ABTA. These quarantine decisions are having a significant impact on the economy.

“Because of the unique business model on which travel is based, where the initial point of the contact for the customer is the last link in the chain to be paid, we’re urging the Scottish Government to consider sector specific support urgently.”

The SPAA, founded in 1921, is the world’s oldest organisation representing travel agents. It currently has 120 members and 92 associate members across the travel and transport industry.

Pubs and restaurants should not serve customers who refuse to comply with legislation mandating them to provide contact details, Nicola Sturgeon said as Scotland recorded 65 new coronavirus cases in a day.

Providing contact details in hospitality venues to allow contact tracing in the event of a positive case became law on Friday, having previously been advised.

READ MORE: Opinion: Malcolm Cannon: Time to focus on your team

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said: “It is now mandatory for hospitality businesses – including cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars – to collect customer and visitor contact details.

“That requirement already exists in guidance and I know many businesses are already doing this, but it is now the law.

“It’s an essential step to ensure that our test and protect system can function as effectively as possible.

“So from now on, all hospitality businesses must collect contact details for all visitors to the premises. That includes customers and staff, but also people such as cleaners and delivery drivers.

“Let me make this point clear as well, particularly to members of the public: if customers refuse to provide these details, they should not be served in the place that they’re trying to be served.”

The First Minister also expressed concern about “venues where crowding has become an issue, due to poor compliance with physical distancing or premises exceeding their safety capacity”.

She highlighted new Government guidance for hospitality venues and said physical distancing of at least one metre must apply, unless customers are from the same household.

Ms Sturgeon stressed “nobody’s social life should feel exactly as it was before”, as she issued guidance urging people to avoid visiting numerous hospitality venues in quick succession.

She said: “The more settings you go to, the more likely you might be to get Covid-19, and the more likely you might be to spread it.

“Visiting lots of pubs in a single day or evening massively increases the workload of test and protect, so please think about that – it makes a really big difference if you stay in one pub.”

The new measures also include further restrictions on hospitality venues, banning queuing both inside and out except for takeaway products and for “unavoidable” safety reasons.

Warning there is “an increased risk that physical distancing will not be observed in queues”, the guidance adds: “Holding people in line generally to wait for others to leave and make space is not a valid reason.”

The First Minister said 28 of the new cases are in the Grampian health board area, nine are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 12 are in Lanarkshire and two in Orkney.

Since July 26, 198 cases are believed to be associated with the “large and complex outbreak” linked to Aberdeen pubs, which led to a local lockdown.

A total of 1,032 contacts have been traced, and the First Minister warned new cases and contacts are expected in the coming days.

However, she added the Scottish Government is “hopeful that this is an outbreak that will be brought firmly under control”.

A total of 19,238 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland and of these people no new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, meaning this toll remains at 2,491.

There are 253 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of five in 24 hours.

Of these patients, three were in intensive care, no change from Thursday.

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