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H&J Smith plans to close its department stores in Balclutha & Te Anau

H&J Smith plans to close its department stores in Balclutha & Te Anau
H&J Smith plans to close its department stores in Balclutha & Te Anau

The coronavirus has impacted various businesses globally as economies struggles to recover from the drastic financial downfall. The effects of lockdown are clearly visible on department stores, which are reportedly one of the most affected sectors. South Island department store chain H&J Smith is one of the many victims of this grueling lockdown which has caused it to permanently shut its Balclutha & Te Anau stores and downsize its Gore one store.

According to reliable sources, the firm is consolidating back its operations to its hometown in Invercargill, as it moves ahead to start its business in a post-COVID-19 era. It is also planning to close its Outdoor World at Queenstown’s Remarkables Park.

Speaking on the move, Jason Smith, Managing Director, H&J Smith, said that currently the company is in an extremely difficult position as it has taken a toll from the Covid-19 pandemic. The company is struggling with issues like store size and scale, an aging store network that requires capital expenditure, and increasing compliance & wage costs.

Evidently, the shutdown of Te Anau and Balclutha branches would affect 17 employees while 27 employees would be out of jobs due to the downsizing of the main Gore outlet. In fact, the closure of Gore branch would lead to the shutdown of NZ Post and Kiwibank stores, impacting almost seven staff, who might be redeployed to other stores in the future.

As for the Queenstown shop, the closure would lead to a job loss of 10 employees. However, Smith assures that the company is looking for opportunities to redeploy these staff in other ongoing operations.

In other news, the owner of prominent fashion brand Zara, Inditex SA revealed that it is planning to permanently shut nearly 1,200 stores, amounting to almost 16% of its global outlets. Reportedly, the firm is focusing on shifting towards selling online, as it enters into a new post-pandemic market.

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Omkar Patwardhan

Omkar Patwardhan started his professional career in the hospitality industry. Having nurtured a deep-sated passion for words however, he found his way into content writing and now pens down articles for and a few other websites, spanning the sectors of business, finance, and technology./