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QLD_CM_BIZ_KATIES_23AUG16

6800 Aussies stood down today

Wesfarmers will close every Kmart store in New Zealand as the coronavirus outbreak escalates.

In a note to investors today, parent company Wesfarmers revealed New Zealand's 25 Kmart stores would shut for four weeks from midnight tonight following the government's new restrictions on "non-essential services".

Meanwhile, Bunnings, which is also owned by Wesfarmers, will keep its 53 New Zealand stores open to trade to customers but will be closed to the general public during this period.

But for now at least, it's business as usual for Wesfarmers' Aussie brands, which includes Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks.

"At this stage, state and federal government measures in Australia do not require the closure of retail stores," the statement reads.

"Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks stores across Australia are operating under standard or near-standard trading hours and operations continue in the Group's industrial businesses.

All New Zealand Kmart stores will shut. Picture: iStock
All New Zealand Kmart stores will shut. Picture: iStock

 

"All businesses in the Group are focusing on ensuring continued availability of products and services in a manner that minimises risks to team members and customers, including through online channels for the Group's retail businesses."

The company stressed the New Zealand shutdowns would not have a significant impact on the overall company as, "Wesfarmers does not have significant operations in New Zealand outside of its Bunnings, Kmart and Industrial & Safety businesses," and "revenue from its New Zealand operations represent approximately eight per cent of the Group's total annual revenue".

But it's another story entirely for Mosaic Brands, which owns the Rivers, Katies and Noni B fashion brands in Australia.

In an investor note, it confirmed the company's 6800 employees would be stood down as all stores in Australia closed indefinitely.

It is understood almost 1400 stores could be affected by the temporary closures, which will kick in from tomorrow.

"The health and wellbeing of the Group's customers, team and broader community are paramount," the statement reads.

"The Group's personal service mandate, which it prides itself on, conflicts with the Government's 'social distancing' recommendations."

All Rivers, Noni B and Katies stores in Australia will also close.
All Rivers, Noni B and Katies stores in Australia will also close.

 

It said all team members would be "stood down with access to leave entitlements" and that the company was looking into government support schemes that may be available to them.

"The Group will continue to communicate regularly with the team and will offer other forms of support through this difficult time and period of uncertainty, including access to its Employee Assistance Program," the statement reads.

"The Group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the Government's 'social distancing' recommendations.

Around 6800 workers will be stood down.
Around 6800 workers will be stood down.

 

"The Group is working with its business partner and is reviewing its cost of doing business with a view to reducing costs to match expected revenue. These steps are being taken to ensure the Group is best placed for the coming months and to provide longer-term job security to its 6800 predominantly female team."

Online sales will continue as normal.

The dual announcements come one day after the Michael Hill jewellery chain announced the closure of 300 stores across Australia, New Zealand and Canada in response to the global crisis.

Originally published as 6800 Aussies stood down today


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