British retailers Marks & Spencer (M&S) said on Wednesday it is axing up to 1,230 jobs and closing down 27 stores after a fall in Christmas sales.
M&S said like-for-like sales - which strip out the impact of new stores - fell 7.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 27. Total British sales fell 3.4 per cent.
The company, which employs around 70,000 staff in Britain, said up to 780 jobs will go with the store closures and 450 more at its head office.
The cost-saving drive also involves changes to M&S's final salary pension scheme - by capping employees' annual increases in pensionable pay - and altering early retirement benefits for those who joined the scheme before 1996.
M&S, which hopes to cut costs by up to 200 million pounds through the moves, is the latest British retailer to be hit by the economic downturn - although some have announced increased sales.
Retailers Next, Debenhams and Blacks Leisure have all reported falling sales in the run-up to Christmas as compared to the same period in 2007, but John Lewis’ sales rose 1.2 per cent, and its food outlet Waitrose saw its sales jump 41 per cent in the week to 27 December.
M&S executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose said: "We are aware that the proposed changes set out above will be difficult for those members of staff impacted, but, given that we expect challenging economic conditions to continue for at least the next 12 months, we believe we are taking the right action to maintain the strength of our business."