Discount retailer Poundland has announced the temporary closure of 32 of its stores amid the Covid-19 virus outbreak, resulting in staff receiving 80% of their average earnings due to the government’s Jobs Retention Scheme.
Shop workers’ trade union Usdaw said the retailer is asking employees to voluntarily agree to be furloughed.
Poundland said stores will only be closed if the store is located in a retail or shopping centre and is instructed by its landlord, if there are a number of stores in the same area and closing will assist to streamline distribution operations and if there are not enough staff members available to the store.
Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer, said: “This is clearly a difficult time for shop workers on the frontline of providing essential services during the coronavirus emergency. We understand why the company feels 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.”
Last month, Poundland reported a 1.3% increase in like-for-like sales for the three-month period ended 23 December 2019.
The discount retailer also reported a “record trading day” on 23 December, serving almost 1.6 million customers.
It said it benefited from the “continued strong performance” of the Pep and Co clothing brand, which is now present in 301 UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI) Poundland stores.