Coronavirus has taken another hit at the retail industry, with department store icon Myer to shut for at least four weeks from this weekend.
Coronavirus has taken another hit at the retail industry, with department store icon Myer to shut for at least four weeks from this weekend.

Myer to close doors, stand down thousands of jobs

Aussie retail giant Myer will close doors around the country and stand down 10,000 staff without pay from Sunday afternoon.

The iconic company says the measures will last at least four weeks, until April 27, in a statement to the ASX.

Online shopping will still be available, the company said, and it will reduce the threshold for free delivery to $49. The returns policy will also be relaxed.

Staff will not be paid during the stand down period, but will have greater flexibility to access annual leave and staff entitlements.

Executives and the board will also work without pay, but a small group of 'business critical' roles will be retained and paid at 80 per cent of their normal wage, CEO John King said.

Mr King said his thoughts are with staff and it was one of the company's toughest decisions in 120 years of operation.

"We will focus on ensuring we offer the best possible online experience for our customers, whist being ready to restart the business in four weeks."

"Our focus must remain on operating our business in a manner that protects the health and wellbeing of customers and team members, whilst supporting the government, and the communities in which we operate, in limiting the spread of COVD-19."

Given the sheer size of the company - and the fact that it exists as an anchor tenant in many shopping centres - the impact is likely to have a ripple effect across the retail and property sectors.

The grim announcement comes as dozens of big name stores have shut up shop as the coronavirus and new social distancing measures take a toll on the retail industry.

Today, outdoor chain Kathmandu became another major retail name to shut its doors in response to the sharp decline of business, standing down 2000 staff across its Australian and New Zealand operations without pay.

The company will also close 118 Rip Curl outlets which it acquired last year.

Retail Food Group - the owners of popular chains Gloria Jean's Coffees, Brumby's Bakeries, Donut King, and Michel's Patisserie - said it will stand down or cut the hours of its workforce.

From Sunday, furniture retailer Adairs will temporarily close its 160 Australian stores and stand down its retail and customer support staff.

Elsewhere in the industry, on Thursday, Premier Investments Limited - which owns the Just Group, whose brands include Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Dotti - announced it was closing all stores "until further notice", with online shops also affected.

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