Staff will be furloughed or transferred to other stores where possible
MD Barry Williams said “people’s buying patterns are naturally changing”, which is having an impact on stores
A significant number of the stores are understood to be closing on the instruction of shopping centre or retail park landlords
Poundland is temporarily closing 100 stores as footfall plummets during the coronavirus lockdown.
Staff are to be furloughed in the government’s job retention scheme, under which they will be eligible to receive 80% of their wages. Others will be transferred to another store where possible, according to the retailer.
The moves will also see 250 central staff in Willenhall and Watford asked to furlough. About 40 contractors at the central office in Willenhall have been asked to complete work by Friday.
The measures would better position Poundland for recovery as the country emerged from lockdown, the retailer said. It leaves about 800 Poundland stores trading.
“We served nearly three million customers last week with groceries and household essentials,” said Poundland MD Barry Williams. “It has been an amazing effort by all our colleagues. But people’s buying patterns are naturally changing as they stick to the government’s advice to stay at home and this is having an impact.
“The measures we’re taking, such as putting some stores into hibernation, will help us better serve communities from the majority of stores that remain open during this period of disruption.
“It will make sure we’re well-placed for recovery once the country emerges from its current battle.”
A significant number of the stores are understood to be closing on the instruction of shopping centre or retail park landlords. It comes after The Grocer revealed shopping centre trade body Revo was in talks with the government to find a way to keep centres open despite most retail tenants closing. Landlords wanted the sites to stay open so essential retailers could trade, but were under pressure from non-essential shops who were refusing to pay service charges for closed stores, Revo said.
The closing Poundlands include one in Manchester’s Arndale Shopping Centre and one in Sheffield’s Meadowhall.
In other cases the closing stores are near another Poundland, which remains open.
According to the variety discounter, 70% of its range is groceries and “essential household items”.
Usdaw national officer Dave Gill said: “This is clearly a difficult time for shopworkers on the frontline of providing essential services during the coronavirus emergency.
“We understand why the company feel the need to temporarily streamline the number of outlets and we have emphasised the need for furloughed workers to be volunteers.
“Usdaw continues in negotiations with the company, where we are calling for Poundland to top up the government scheme, so that our members have no loss of income.”