Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 17th March 2020
Two well-known retailers have made dramatic announcements about their future as the coronavirus outbreak adds to the significant pressures already being felt by high street operators across the country.
Carphone Warehouse, the mobile phone retailer, has said it intends to close all of its 531 outlets across the UK from early April.
Those plans will see some 2,900 people made redundant but expectations are that around 1,800 of of them will be moved to different roles within the company as it restructures in the coming weeks.
Closing all its standalone outlets will still leave Carphone Warehouse with more than 300 shops located within stores that are primarily PC World and Curry’s outlets.
The company’s chief executive Alex Baldock has explained that his customers are increasingly shopping online or visiting big stores that sell a wider array of electrical goods beyond just mobile phones.
He said that Carphone Warehouse’s standalone stores have been steadily bringing in less or losing money as shopper habits have changed.
In reference to the planned redundancies, Mr Baldock said: “Though this is by far the toughest decision we’ve had to make, it is necessary.”
“We must follow our customers. They want help with all technology, all in one place, and this trend is only going to accelerate in a more connected 5G world,” he told the BBC.
Meanwhile, the fashion and furniture chain Laura Ashley is calling in administrators to take over its financial affairs, with 2,700 jobs at risk across its operations.
Efforts had been made in recent days to try and rescue the company but without success.
Statements given by Laura Ashley suggested that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak had contributed to its entry into administration with trade having dropped off significantly since the crisis took hold.
Lobbyists for UK businesses, including the head of the Confederation of British Industry Carolyn Fairbairn, have called on the government to take urgent action in support of companies most in need as they attempt to overcome the financial shocks they’re suffering as a result of coronavirus.
“We do not want to look back and say we acted too late,” she said.