// Clarks the first major UK retailer to temporarily shut down its UK store estate amid coronavirus pandemic
// Clarks said its employees would continue to be paid during the closures
// Other retailers that have announced store closures include Fenwick, Oxfam and Sweaty Betty
Clarks, Sweaty Betty, Fenwick and Oxfam have become the latest retailers to announce the temporary closure of all of its British stores in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Clarks confirmed it would temporarily close all of its 441 stores in the UK and Ireland immediately, making it the first major UK retail chain to announce store closures across its entire estate.
In a statement, the footwear retailer cited the need to protect “the health and safety of our employees, customers and surrounding communities”.
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Clarks UK and Ireland general manager Joe Ulloa said shop floor staff would continue to receive pay and benefits while the stores are closed.
He also highlighted that some Clarks’ franchise stores could remain open, and that the retailer’s online store would still operate as usual.
While Clarks is regarded as one of the biggest privately-owned retail companies in the UK, they’re not alone in announcing store closures when a government-mandated lockdown is not in place like in neighbouring European countries.
Fenwick also said it would close all stores until further notice due to coronavirus, following the footsteps of rival department store Selfridges which announced store closures yesterday.
Activewear retailer Sweaty Betty said it would closing all of its stores internationally, including its 50 in the UK.
Finally, Oxfam is closing its 600-plus high street charity shops until further notice.
Other retailers that have announced temporary store closures include Boden and Calvin Klein.
Temporary retail store closures are likely to increase amid growing speculation that the government may place London in lockdown to help reduce the speed of coronavirus spreading.