Retail appointments

Peter Kailis and Chris Green

Shelf stackers in high demand

Supermarkets, swamped by the unprecedented panic buying sparked by the coronavirus, have ramped up their efforts to hire casual workers to keep their shelves stacked, warehouses humming and trucks on the road.

Woolworths has offered to hire some of the 20,000 Qantas workers who were stood down after the national carrier suspended all international flights and reduced its domestic services.

Meanwhile Coles has announced its intention to recruit 5000 new casuals. It has been in talks with a range of businesses to pick up some of their laid-off staff.

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The move reflects the uneven impact the virus has had on businesses, with supermarkets struggling to keep up, said Woolworths’ chief people officer, Caryn Katsikogianis.

“We’re facing unprecedented demand for food and groceries across Australia right now and will need more hands on deck to help meet the needs of our customers in the coming months,” Katsikogianis said in a statement.

She said the supermarket is seeking to match up Qantas staff with suitable short-term opportunities across Woolworths’ store support office, supply chain facilities, customer fulfilment centres and stores.

“These are uncertain times for many different sectors and we feel for all Australians whose livelihood has been impacted by the coronavirus,” she said.

Lay-offs mount as crisis deepens

The coronavirus outbreak has virtually shut down corporate Australia and New Zealand, with a result that upwards of 100,000 jobs have already been lost.

At this point, it is hoped across the board that the lay-offs are temporary, but the toll on household finances is already enormous.

Reuters reports that ultimately, economists forecast the crisis will more than double unemployment to more than 11 per cent, the highest in three decades. Retail has been among the worst – and the first – hit by the crisis. Jeweller Michael Hill is putting staff on leave in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The company employs about 2500. Fashion retailer Mosaic Brands is standing down 6800.

Footwear retailer Accent Group has stood down all its retail employees and most support staff for four weeks without pay. The company reportedly employs 5700.

Meanwhile, travel bans have hit the airline industry hard, with Qantas laying off 20,000 workers until at least the end of May and Virgin following suit by standing down 8000 employees.

Casinos and entertainment facilities have been laying off too, with Star Entertainment Group putting 9000 people, 90 per cent of its workforce, on leave. Crown Resorts (with 18,500 employees) and SkyCity in New Zealand (5000 employees) are both still assessing the situation.

Red Rooster founder remembered

Peter Kailis, the founder of Aussie chicken chain Red Rooster, has passed away at the age of 93.

Born in Perth in 1927, Kailis grew up working in his family’s fish-and-chip shop. He left school at the age of 14 and over the next 30 years built a number of successful businesses in timber, construction and packaging.

Kailis invested in a burgeoning chicking business in 1972, becoming one of the nine founding partners of the first Red Rooster store in Kelmscott, WA. He eventually bought out the other investors and grew the business by word of mouth and clever marketing. He also created popular products, such as the Hawaiian Pack and Rooster Roll, which are still on the menu today.

Kailis sold the company to Myer in 1982, and stayed on to run the brand for another five years. The QSR franchise, which is now owned by Craveable Brands, remembered the founder as a “devoted father and husband” and “a bit of legend in WA”.

Kailis reportedly remained a customer of his local Red Rooster until his death in March 2020.

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