H&J Smith announces Dunedin store closures, job cuts

About 85 more jobs will be affected after department store chain H&J Smith has confirmed it will close its Dunedin stores.

The retailer announced it will close its Dunedin department store on January 30, 2021, as well as the Armoury store which operates in the Wall St precinct.

Earlier this month, H&J Smith confirmed the closure of its Te Anau and Balclutha stores, the downsizing of its Gore store and the closure of Outdoor World at Remarkables Park in Queenstown.

Last month, the group said it is planning on reducing the size of its retail division to secure its long-term future.

The company’s managing director Jason Smith said the business has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 health crisis and now faces a long and slow economic recovery.

The retailer added it has also been grappling with issues like increasing wage and compliance costs, store size and scale and an ageing store network in need of capital expenditure.

Reducing its store network and consolidating its operations back to its home base of Invercargill will enable H&J Smith to secure the long-term future of its retail division.

“We’ve been working in the background with the Dunedin mall owners and managers to finalise terms,” Smith said. “Late yesterday we received the necessary legal documentation to allow us to firm up exit dates.”

The company said about 85 employees will be affected by the Dunedin store closure.

“While I appreciate this will be very difficult for our Dunedin-based staff, I am pleased to be able to provide certainty so they can now plan for their futures,” Smith said.

“We deeply regret the impact the Dunedin department store closure will have on our employees and their families, as well as the community.”

According to Smith, the distance meant redeployment wasn’t a realistic option for the majority of employees however the company would consider this for staff who wanted to relocate.

Decisions on the future of the H&J Smith store at Mosgiel are under active consideration with no further details disclosed at this time.

The other businesses operated by the H & J Smith Group, Mitre 10 MEGA in Invercargill and Queenstown and Laser Electrical in Invercargill are not affected by the restructure.

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