Fortnum and Mason are to cut 100 hospitality jobs as the company struggles to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a meeting at the luxury brand’s Piccadilly headquarters, bosses told front of house and kitchen staff they were facing redundancy because of ‘evolving consumer habits’.
The cuts are expected to hit the company’s St Pancras Station bar and The Gallery restaurant in Mayfair which have not yet reopened due to record low footfall.
Britain’s high streets have been hammered by the lockdown, with at least 65,000 jobs currently at risk across the country, including 700 at department store Harrods.
A source who works at Fortnum’s told MailOnline: ‘Essentially, last week we received an email from management, telling the whole of hospitality to go to meeting at Piccadilly. This included front of house and restaurant staff.
‘They did a presentation, saying Fortnum was “doing well” and sales were “picking up again”.’
But bosses then revealed The Gallery restaurant would not be reopening, with all staff losing their jobs , and more than 10 roles at the recently refurbished St Pancras store would be cut.
It is believed there are further cuts in reservations and purchasing.
‘Everyone was so shocked, we had no indication whatsoever before. My own manager had no idea about the contents of the meeting.’
They were then asked to leave through the fire escape, rather than by the store.
The source added they were concerned that several employees at risk of redundancy had large families, and could be deemed ‘too old’ to start a career at another company.
‘I think they are essentially using this as a chance to “rebuild” their team, which means getting rid of staff who have been there a long time.’
Fortnum and Mason has not taken part in the furlough scheme, with CEO Ewan Venters it is intended for companies that ‘would otherwise make mass redundancies’.
‘People need to reflect on themselves and decide if they’ve done the right thing,’ he told the Sunday Times.
He also revealed that footfall at the Piccadilly store was as low as 10 per cent of pre-Covid levels after reopening in late May, and does not expect levels to recover properly until November.
Fortnum’s branch at the Royal Exchange, which the source said was ‘haemorrhaging money’ before the lockdown, reopened on July 6.
Mr Venters recently urged ministers to encourage British families to holiday at home rather than go overseas so they could help boost the economy with staycations.
‘Why aren’t we saying to our citizens that it’s your duty to stay in the UK to spend your money and help prop up the country’s economy?’ he said.
Of Fortnum’s £138m sales last year, 40 per cent came from overseas visitors, most of whom visit in the summer.
On the choice not to furlough any staff, he added: ‘Our balance sheet was strong, our cash position was strong and we paid everyone’s salaries during the entire pandemic.’
A spokesperson for Fortnum and Mason declined to comment.