// Ikea to shut down all UK and Ireland stores as a “precautionary measure” from the coronavirus pandemic
// The temporary closures are effective from 6pm on Friday night
// Customers can still shop online and have purchases delivered, with contact-free delivery also an option
Ikea has joined a fast-growing list of retailers that announced a temporary closure of its UK and Ireland stores, effective from 6pm on Friday night.
The furniture giant cited the decision as a “precautionary measure against the ongoing risk” posed to staff and customers by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ikea, which made the announcement today on its website, has already closed all in-store restaurants, cafes and playground facilities and is undergoing enhanced cleaning techniques.
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Ikea operates 22 stores in the UK, although last month it revealed plans to close down its Coventry store and had started a consultation process with affected staff.
It employs around 11,000 staff in the UK.
A spokesperson told Retail Gazette that the company would “do everything we can to support co-workers in the best way possible during this complex and fast-evolving situation”.
“Those able to perform their roles from home are doing so. Our online fulfilment operations and customer contact centre are still in operation,” the spokesperson sadded.
“Those store workers who are fit and healthy are being asked to come in to into work when stores are shut to the public and we’ll work together to define how we best support our customers and communities.
“Those self-isolating in line with government guidelines are being paid.”
Ikea Uk country manager Peter Jelkeby said: “The health and safety of our customers and co-workers across the UK and Ireland is our main priority, and so I wanted to share some of the things we are doing in our stores to keep our customers and co-workers safe and cared for,”
“As a precautionary measure against the ongoing risk of Covid-19, we have decided that, at 6pm on Friday 20th March, we will temporarily close all the IKEA stores across the UK and Ireland to customers.”
Jelkeby added that customers can continue to shop with Ikea online and via its app, and have products delivered directly to their homes.
Contact-free delivery can be requested, and Ikea said it would be touch with pre-booked kitchen planning appointments to discuss virtual or remote planning options.
“Co-workers are at the heart of the Ikea business and we are committed to supporting them in the best possible way during this complex and fast-evolving situation,” Jelkeby said.
“We would like to thank our co-workers and partners for their dedication and hard work through these unprecedented times.”
Ikea is not alone in announcing store closures when a government-mandated lockdown is not in place like in neighbouring European countries.
Clarks, one of the biggest privately-owned retail businesses in the UK, was the first major British retailer to have announced store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Reports have since emerged that TK Maxx will follow suit.
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, and Oxfam is closing its 600-plus high street charity shops until further notice.
Other retailers that have announced temporary store closures include Boden, Nike and Calvin Klein.
Meanwhile, Apple said it would close all of its stores outside of China until further notice.