COMMERCIAL PROPERTY, SALES & LEASINGCORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Lockdown forces Michael Hill to close 300 stores

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JEWELLERY chain Michael Hill has voluntarily shut its store network indefinitely, leaving another 167 shops across Australia inactive as pressure mounts on retailers in a period of nationwide lockdown.

In an ASX announcement, the company said current social distancing guidelines are “not consistent with the day to day conduct of our business”.

“The drop off in trade the company has experienced in Australia also reflects a customer base that is of course focused on more immediate issues.”

“In the interests of the health and safety of our people and our customers, Michael Hill today announces that it will suspend operations of its Australian store network for an indefinite period with immediate effect.”

All of its 300-plus stores worldwide will be closed – it has 128 in Canada and New Zealand –while e-commerce operations will continue.

Non essential services across much of the country have been shut this week, including pubs, clubs, and cafes and restaurants have been restricted to takeaway service. Michael Hill is the first retailer outside of those affected by the current lockdown to voluntarily shut.

Flight Centre has announced the closure of up to 100 stores following the outbreak, in a move forced by the massive hit taken by the tourism and travel industry. Clothing and swimwear label Tigerlily went into voluntary administration earlier this week, blaming a drop in sale on the pandemic. The company has about 30 stores nationwide.

The COVID-19 outbreak has heaped more pain on a retain industry already struggling. Kikki K this month joined the growing name of local brands to go into administration, following fashion chains Jeanswest, Bardot and Colette by Colette Hayman, and department store Harris Scarfe.

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