Friday, 9 Jun 2023

Next ‘closes all operations from tonight’ and won’t even do online sales

One of the UK's biggest fashion chains, Next, will close its entire operation from tonight.

The news comes after workers raised concerns at being asked to come into stores and warehouses to pick goods during the coronavirus lockdown, the company says.

The brand's high street stores are already closed due to the virus outbreak and will remain shut for the duration of the pandemic.

It comes after the company offered staff a 20% boost in pay if they turned up to stores to help with online orders, flouting government orders for all non-key workers to stay home.

Employees were asked to travel to temporarily-shuttered sites and pick clothes for online orders "to keep the company operating", PA reports.

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A letter sent to employees on Tuesday evening said: "We need to keep the online business functioning to be certain that Next emerges from this short term crisis.

"To help us, we are looking for a small number of staff to attend work to pick and process the stock in our stores that customers have purchased online and keep the online business going.

"We will only look to achieve this on a voluntary basis."

The company has now walked back plans to keep its online retail operation going.

A statement from Next said it had listened "very carefully" to the concerns of its workers, and it was apparent that "many increasingly feel that they should be at home in the current climate".

Next had earlier launched a huge online sale offering up to 75% off clothing and homeware.

It also waived all delivery fees on online orders.

Next operates approximately 700 stores, 500 of which are in the UK and about 200 are located across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

It's the latest in a number of retailers to shut up shop until coronavirus is contained, including John Lewis, Zara, H&M and The Body Shop. Some are continuing with online sales during the lockdown.

Sports Direct was criticised over initially refusing to shut down and claiming to be an "essential" business, and the company has since relented.

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