Recession Watch: M&S, Barclays, Car Sales and Cattles

There are four interesting stories to do with the recession today, concerning Marks and Spencer, Barclays, UK Car Sales and sub-prime lender Cattles.

Firstly, as has been widely reported, M&S is to shed more than 1,200 jobs, closing a number of its small Simply Food stores, as well as a couple of its normal stores. Here’s a list of the stores set to close:

Grafton Centre, Cambridge
Imperial Wharf
Harbourside Bristol
Palmers Green
Colmore Row
Whitley Bay
Biggin Hill
Melton Mowbray
Market Harborough
Valley Park Croydon

Nearly 800 of the jobs will be lost in these store closures, with the rest lost at their head quarters.

This, together with their trading reports showing a decrease in “like-for-like” sales of 7.1% in the 13 weeks to 27th December, are a sharp warning to many high street retailers. Whilst the figures probably aren’t as bad as they may have been feared, for one of the larger retailers to suffer this kind of loss must be worrying for smaller brands.

M&S have also announced changes to their final salary pension scheme which will limit increases in staff’s pensionable pay, and will therefore save the company money (whilst reducing the future growth of member’s pension funds).

Barclays have also announced job losses, with 400 workers, mainly IT staff in London and Cheshire, facing the axe. Barclays is hoping to avoid making compulsory redundancies by letting contractors go.

Moving from banking to another struggling industry, cars, and figures released today show that new UK car sales were down over 11% in 2008, compared with 2007, the lowest figure since 1996.

Staying with the car market, whilst the 80 job losses at The Exchange & Mart aren’t massive in the scale of things, possibly of more interest is the fact that they’ll be moving to an internet-only business model from February, and will not be producing a printed version.

This decision is probably not directly related to the recession, as the printed Exchange & Mart has faced serious competition from online rivals in the past few years, but the timing of the change for those losing their jobs will obviously be very unfortunate.

Finally, another annoucement of major redundancies has been made at loan company Cattles. Cattles targetted people with poor or little credit history, and is expecting a large decrease in the amount of business it will do this year. They’ve announced that 1,000 jobs will be lost in the move, with about 400 of these going in Hull. The Welcome Financial Services brand will be hardest hit. It won’t be welcome news to their staff.

One thought on “Recession Watch: M&S, Barclays, Car Sales and Cattles

  1. I won’t lose any sleep over seeing companies like Cattles going through difficulties.

    I occasionally came across clients who had “Welcome Finance” loans paying 18% interest, which had been mis-sold to them, along with single premium “Payment Protection Insurance” sold to cover the loan, with the single premium added to the loan. In one case, a couple borrowed £12k on the loan, and were “advised” to add the £2.5k PPI single premium to the loan, giving them a total of £14.5k @ 18%.

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