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Michael Hill to Close Remainder of Global Stores

Jeweler will shut locations in New Zealand and Australia after halting business in Canada.
Mar 24, 2020 9:24 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Michael Hill will shut its stores in Australia and New Zealand for an indefinite period in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus and a slowdown in its store traffic.

“In Australia, the current ‘social distancing’ guidelines are not consistent with the day-to-day conduct of our business,” the company said Monday. “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.”

The chain’s Australian locations will close immediately, as will its entire store network in New Zealand, following an announcement by the government that the country will only allow essential employees to continue working.

“The board and management team have acted swiftly today following the extraordinary circumstances that are impacting the Australian and New Zealand retail markets,” the company noted. “Whilst it is clear that the suspension of our store networks is necessary for the safety and well-being of our people and our customers, we know also that this will be a time of great uncertainty for them too, and we are doing our best to provide them with the support that they need through this difficult time.”

Additionally, the jeweler’s Canadian stores, which it shut March 20, will also remain closed indefinitely. Michael Hill had originally introduced a two-week temporary shutdown at those locations.

Michael Hill has also decided to defer its dividend payments to shareholders for six months. It will revisit that decision before September 30, it said.

The company is working to reduce costs during the closures. Staff members will be paid any leave they have while the retailer assesses government support schemes for worker compensation, it added.

Image: A Michael Hill store in Melbourne, Australia. (Michael Hill)
Tags: Coronavirus, COVI-19, Michael Hill, Rapaport News
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