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CEOs call for shutdown as more stores close

Leaders of major retail chains have called for a total shutdown of non-essential services in Australia, criticising the Government’s piecemeal approach to restricting trade, saying it has led to confusion and put retailers in a vulnerable position if they choose to close on their own.

“I’m really angry the government hasn’t done something,” Justin Levis, Cue’s executive director, told The Australian Financial Review on Friday.

Levis said retailers have been put in a difficult position, because they aren’t generating enough sales to pay rent and wages, but they don’t have the protection of a Government mandate if they choose to close stores and stand down staff.

Still, Cue has decided to close stores and shut down concessions across Australia starting tomorrow.

It joins a long list of major retailers that have already done so, including Michael Hill, Lovisa, Mosaic Brands (which owns Noni B, Katies, Millers, Rockmans, Rivers, Autograph, W.Lane and Beme), Premier Investments (which owns Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Dotti and Jacqui E) Accent Group (which owns Platypus, Hype DC, The Trybe and The Athlete’s Foot), APG & Co (which owns Saba, Sportscraft and Jag), Retail Apparel Group (which owns Tarocash, Connor, Johnny Bigg and yd.) and many others.

More major retailers have followed suit.

Kathmandu announced on Friday that it will close its Australian retail network at 5pm, PAS Group said it will close Review, Black Pepper and Jets stores at 5pm, though it will keep its Review concessions in Myer open, and Adairs said it will close its Australian stores at close of trade on Sunday.

“Irresponsible” to stay open

Accent Group CEO Daniel Agostinelli and Lovisa CEO Shane Fallscheer have also called on the Government to shut down non-essential retail.

“To me it’s absolutely irresponsible the shopping centres are still open,” Agostinelli told the AFR.

Fallscheer said he “would support a full lockdown of shopping centres”.

Mosaic Brands chair Richard Facioni told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, that the incremental approach was just prolonging the agony: “Let’s get this over and done with, just go into a shutdown”.

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