Marks & Spencer is planning a major overhaul of staff contracts and working practices to boost its recovery drive, it emerged today.
The struggling high street retailer reportedly plans to ask staff to work more hours at weekends and to simplify its 429 different employment contracts for workers doing similar roles.
M&S said the majority of staff should be “better off financially” in return for accepting the changes, according to the Financial Mail on Sunday.
The shake-up is part of the firm’s efforts to reverse its falling profits, which it said last week dropped by a further 19% to £618.5m last year.
A spokesman for the group said he understood the changes had been under discussion for a number of months.
“It’s more about changing working patterns than anything else,” he said.
The Mail claimed chief executive Stuart Rose had told it staff morale was key if the company was to get customers to spend more money in its stores.
“I have nothing but praise for my staff, who have been at the front line of all the finger-wagging complaints from the public during all our troubles,” the Mail quoted Mr Rose as saying.
“There is overwhelming support among them to make this company great again.”
Trade union Usdaw said it had received many requests for help from staff at M&S, despite the company’s reputation for offering some of the best working conditions on the high street.
The company does not formally recognise the union, which has launched a recruitment campaign to boost its membership at M&S.
M&S apparently intends to have new pay structures in place by the middle of next month and said the majority of staff back the changes.
Mr Rose reportedly claimed M&S was the most socially responsible company in the UK and said that would not change.
But he added: “We can’t afford to carry passengers.”
Mr Rose said last week that the firm was facing a “tough” six to nine months and the challenge of reviving it was more difficult than when he took the helm last year.
Stores were considered “dowdy” by shoppers who were confused by too many brands and prices that were “inconsistent” compared with its high street rivals, he said.