Retail news from around the globe

Amazon keeps shipping through crisis

Amazon is recommending that its employees around the world work from home this month if they are able to do so, but this does not include warehouse staff as the company intends to keep its deliveries rolling.

However, the company has also announced that all employees who are diagnosed with the coronavirus or put into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay, including part-time warehouse workers.

That pay is in addition to unlimited paid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March, which the company announced as a policy to its workers last week, reports the TechCrunch website.

The company also said it was setting up an Amazon Relief Fund, with a US$25 million initial contribution, to support delivery service partners and drivers along with Amazon Flex participants and seasonal employees.

“We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve,” Amazon said in a statement.

Adidas, Puma sales collapse

As sporting events around the world are cancelled due to the coronavirus, German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma have reported a major collapse in sales in China which has begun to spread to other markets.

Adidas said it expected first-quarter sales to drop by up to €1 billion (almost $2 billion) in greater China, and an overall fall of more than 10 per cent, including a drop of about €100 million in Japan and South Korea, Reuters reports.

Adidas and Puma make almost a third of their sales in Asia. The region is also the main sourcing hub, with China a major producer of sport shoes, T-shirts and other athletic wear.

Puma has withdrawn its financial guidance to investors as it said it could not “quantify the negative effect” of the virus on sales and profits, the Guardian reports.

“Given the duration of the situation in China, the negative impact in other Asian countries and now also the spread to Europe and the US, we unfortunately have to conclude that a short-term normalisation will not occur,” Puma said.

Fils-Aimé joins GameStop board

Troubled US video games and electronics retailer GameStop has appointed former Nintendo America president Reggie Fils-Aimé to its board.

The company had been in steady decline for years as consumers turn to digital storefronts, but the bottom has dropped out of its stock price over the last year – from $US16 a share in January 2019 to less than $US5 by early 2020, according to the Business Insider website.

Fils-Aimé is well-known in the gaming sector, having brought success to Nintendo when he was at the helm from 2006 to 2019.

The appointment is part of a total refresh of the board, with two other appointees joining Fils-Aimé, while others have stepped down; six existing board members will be out by June 2021.

WH Smith hit by travel slump

As the coronavirus curbs travel, WH Smith’s stores in British airports have slumped by 35 per cent, potentially denting its profit by up to £40 million ($99.9 million) and revenue by £130 million this year, Reuters reports.

In the US and the rest of its international operations, including in Asia, the group now expects its second-half revenue to fall by around 20 per cent.

In recent years, WH Smith’s airport and railway station stores have driven growth for the company by offsetting declining sales at its high street stores.

Neil Wilson, chief analyst at Markets.com, told the UK’s This is Money website that US president Donald Trump’s latest European travel ban was going to be very damaging.

“[It] only makes things worse and threatens to make these estimates only partially reflective of the level of damage that could be done this year”, he said.

US workers fight for sick leave

A group of retail activists is seeking paid sick leave for McDonald’s workers on hourly wages as well as an update to safety protocols as fears grow about the coronavirus.

The group, Fight for $15, says that the company has not given sufficient guidelines or training about how to deal with the epidemic. Some workers say they cannot afford to take a day off when they are sick.

A McDonald’s statement said: “As we proactively monitor the impact of the coronavirus, we are continuously evaluating our policies to provide flexibility and reasonable accommodations.”

However, other fast food chains are responding quickly to the crisis. Darden Restaurants, the owner of the well-known Olive Garden and Bahama Breeze chains, has announced it will provide its hourly workers with paid sick leave starting this week.

And separately, Walmart has announced that employees will receive up to two weeks of pay in case of infection or if their store, club, office or distribution centre is quarantined.

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