After 120 years in business, H&J Smith is planning to close or downsize all of its stores other than its flagship Invercargill department store.
Under the proposal, its H&J’s stores in Dunedin, Mosgiel, Balclutha and Te Anau would all close, while H&J Smith in Gore would reduce in size, and the Take Note store in Gore would relocate.
The Armoury Store in Dunedin and Outdoor World at Remarkables Park, Queenstown, owned by the H&J Smith Group, would also close. Approximately 175 staff were affected.
In a statement released this evening, managing director Jason Smith said to secure its long-term future, it had to reduce the size of its retail division.
Smith said the company has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and now needed to consider options for managing its business through what was anticipated to be a long and slow economic recovery.
“Our retail division has been grappling with increasing wage and compliance costs, issues around store size and scale, difficulties securing supply, new entrants to the New Zealand market and the increasing dominance of multinational chains.
“None of which is dissimilar to the well-documented challenges facing department stores around the globe.
“We also have an ageing store network in need of capital expenditure to upgrade and modernise to meet future customer needs, which isn’t prudent given the ongoing uncertainty post-Covid,” he said.
The closures and changes would take place from August through to February 2021, with final decisions made next month.
“We’ve held face to face meetings in every store to present our staff with a summary of where we find ourselves and to outline the proposed changes we feel are required to reset our business for the future,” he said.
The other businesses operated by the H & J Smith Group, Mitre 10 MEGA in Invercargill and Queenstown and Laser Electrical in Invercargill were not included in the proposal.