Myer has joined Premier Investments in keeping stores closed until at least May 11, saying in an ASX statement on Wednesday afternoon that the health and wellbeing of its customers, staff and their families remains its “absolute priority”.
The department store chain closed all stores across the country and stood down 10,000 staff on March 29 in the face of tightening social distancing requirements to fight the spread of COVID-19.
At the time, it said stores would stay closed for an initial period of four weeks until April 27.
But following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s statement on April 16 that social distancing restrictions would remain in place for a further weeks, the retailer has now decided to extend the temporary store closures until at least May 11.
“Myer is full supportive of the continuing government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the requirements for people to practise social distancing and only leave home for essential purposes,” the company said on Wednesday.
Premier Investments, the company behind Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Dotti, also cited the Prime Minister’s statement in its decision to extend temporary store closures.
Premier said it would continue to not pay rent for the duration of the shutdown and put the onus on shopping centres to create a “healthy and safe environment”before it would reopen.
Myer said it is continuing to take all necessary measures to minimise costs, including engaging in ongoing discussions with suppliers and landlords.
In terms of reopening, the retailer said it would closely monitor government measures and advice over the coming weeks, with a view to reopening stores as soon as possible.
It flagged the possibility of reopening stores on a staged basis, taking into account the different conditions and restrictions in effect across the country.
Myer has continued to trade online through the pandemic, with online fulfilment occurring at 26 locations across the store and distribution centre network, and about 20 per cent of team members have been brought back to work to support the e-commerce business.
“The strong growth in the online business during the past few weeks has been particularly encouraging,” John King, Myer’s CEO, said.
“Our plans for reopening our physical stores are well advanced and we look forward to welcoming customers back into stores, when it is safe to do so.”
The retailer said it has applied to participate in the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme and is granting full-time and part-time staff greater access to leave entitlements during the shutdown.