Urban Outfitters to Make Staff Redundant After 'Substantial, Unrecoverable' Loss

An email sent by the manager of Urban Outfitters’ flagship London store, seen by VICE News, states that UK sales have suffered during the pandemic.
August 18, 2020, 10:46am
Urban Outfitters to Make Staff Redundant After 'Substantial, Unrecoverable' Loss
Photo: Roberto Herrett / Alamy Stock Photo

High street fashion store Urban Outfitters will be making staff redundant across its shops, visual and creative teams, and head office, VICE News can reveal.

An email sent by the manager of Urban Outfitters’ flagship London store on Oxford Street, seen by VICE News, states that due to a “substantial, unrecoverable loss” during the coronavirus pandemic, the company is proposing to reduce job numbers across several departments.

All non-essential shops in England were required to shut during the coronavirus lockdown, announced in March. As a result, all nine of Urban Outfitters’ UK stores were closed for 13 weeks.

The email, which was sent last week to some Urban Outfitters staff, said: “You are no doubt aware of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retailers such as URBN, and also on the economy as a whole, due to the inability of customers to travel and shop in the way they used to.”

It continued: “The company was compelled to close all UK stores for 13 weeks, resulting in a substantial, unrecoverable loss to URBN. Since they have re-opened, we have seen a significant downturn in the number of consumers visiting our stores.”

“In light of the downturn of retail sales, and the increased preference of customers for direct online purchasing, the company have reviewed the financial position of all stores across the UK and considered ways in which they can be run more efficiently.”

“The company concluded that there is an imbalance of resources and people for the level of store sales being generated and as such, are unfortunately proposing to reduce the number of jobs in our stores, visual and creative teams and head office.”

Abdul Hassan, a senior team leader at Urban Outfitters’ Oxford Street store, told VICE News: “It seems clear where UO really stands”. He believes that the company “does not care” about the wellbeing of its workers.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK has witnessed the biggest hike in unemployment since the 2009 financial crash. Many worry that this is set to get worse when the government’s furlough scheme ends in October.

VICE UK approached Urban Outfitters for comment but it had not responded at the time of publication.