Covid-19 continues to impact retail sector as job cuts announced in Irish department stores

Covid-19 continues to impact retail sector as job cuts announced in Irish department stores
Brown Thomas, Patrick Street. Picture: Dan Linehan

The owner of Irish department stores Brown Thomas and Arnotts is to cut 150 jobs, citing trading difficulties arising from the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for making the decision. 

In a statement, Managing Director of Brown Thomas Arnotts, Donald McDonald said the company is now commencing a consultation with staff and would initially be seeking voluntary redundancies.

Mr McDonald said the company will explore "flexible options" for staff, including shorter working weeks, career breaks and early retirement.

The consultative process is expected to conclude by mid-October.

Brown Thomas has stores located in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, whilst Arnotts is located in Dublin.

"The retail industry is being severely impacted by unprecedented circumstances related to Covid-19 and Brown Thomas Arnotts is no exception. 

"Like many others, we are feeling the effects with sales expected to be significantly down, making 2020 the toughest year we have experienced in recent times," said Mr McDonald.

"And as we face continued uncertainty, with retail unlikely to return to normal for the foreseeable future, it is clear that we need to take a series of steps to ensure our cost base is sustainable, consistent with the level of business we realistically expect, and to ensure our resources are aligned with the current and anticipated requirements of the business," he continued.

Mr McDonald said the decision to reduce the company's workforce was the "toughest decision" he has had to make during his time as Managing Director

"We recognise how unsettling this announcement will be for our teams and that is why we intend working through the challenging days ahead with the same thoughtfulness and respect that has characterised how we have all worked together through the crisis over the past few months.

"We will use our values to help guide us and, as always, we will act with sensitivity, fairness and consideration in every aspect of the process," he said. 

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