Coronavirus: Mulberry plans to axe a quarter of its workforce

Image copyright Mulberry

Mulberry says it plans to cut 25% of its worldwide workforce, the vast majority of which work in the UK.

The high-end fashion brand, which is best known for its leather goods, employs 1,400 people, including 1,140 in the UK.

The company said in a statement it would start reopening UK stores from 15 June.

But it said social distancing measures and reduced tourist and footfall levels would continue to affect its income.

Mulberry was founded in Somerset in 1971, where its two factories are still in production.

As well as luggage and handbags – some of which carry a price tag of more than £1,000 – it also makes footwear, jewellery and eyewear.

Thierry Andretta, Mulberry’s chief executive, said the temporary closure of its physical stores would continue to have a marked effect on business.

Mulberry said it had been able to re-open stores in China and South Korea and, more recently, some stores in Europe and Canada.

It has 120 stores in 25 countries, but also ships to 190 countries around the world.

But it said that although the digital sales performance had been good, it could not fully offset the fall in demand caused by store closures.

The company said: “Even once stores reopen, social distancing measures, reduced tourist and footfall levels will continue to impact our revenue. As a result of this, we must manage our operations and cost base accordingly to ensure the company is the correct size and structure to reflect market conditions.”

The consultation process will last 45 days and affected staff are being contacted.

Mulberry is one of the leading fashion brands that switched production from luxury goods to making medical equipment.

Last month it said it had set its handbag factory in Somerset to making 8,000 gowns for NHS workers in Bristol.

Earlier this year, Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group retail business bought a 12.5% stake in Mulberry.

Mulberry has concession outlets within House of Fraser and also throughout John Lewis’s department stores.