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David Jones is speeding up Australian store closures after a huge downturn in profits

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LUCAS DAWSON

Another day, another retail closure.

Beleaguered Australian retailer David Jones has announced that it’s speeding up its Australian store closures due to a COVID-19 induced profit downturn.

Despite the growth in its online sales, in the eight weeks leading up to the end of April, its sales dropped by more than one third and in-store purchases have dropped by 35.8 per cent even with the Australian lockdown restrictions easing.

Woolworths Holdings Limited, David Jones’ South African-based parent company, released a statement yesterday detailing a number of strategic initiatives it has put in place to help strengthen the business.

One of the core initiatives involves selling off and downsizing several David Jones’s stores, and a buyer has already been found for Melbourne’s Bourke Street Menswear store.

An “accelerated restructure” of David Jones’s store network and floor space is also underway and will result in the retailer downsizing its larger location and permanently shutting some stores.

“We expect the challenging and fluid operating environment brought about by the pandemic to continue for the foreseeable future. In these unprecedented times, the Board and management team will continue to act swiftly and decisively to protect the Group’s financial position,” the company said in yesterday’s statement.

Australia’s retail sector has been in strife for some time now and many stores are struggling to weather the 17.9 per cent April sales plunge that the pandemic caused as shoppers were forced to stay home due to social distancing measures.

Last Friday, Wesfarmers announced that up to 40 large-format Target locations and 52 Target country stores will rebrand to Kmart stores, and that 25 large-format Target and 50 Target country stores will be closed, meaning that up to 1,300 positions will disappear.

davidjones.com

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