Farmers cuts confirmed

Farmers department store in Dunedin. PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS
Farmers department store in Dunedin. PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS
The group that owns Farmers department stores has confirmed some staff across the company have been let go as a result of Covid-19’s impacts, but remaining staff’s wages will return to normal levels from next month.

Staff who were "mid to upper tier’’ were being paid 80% of normal wages during Alert Levels 3 and 4 when the store could not physically open.

All team members across the company, apart from those in payroll, were asked to take voluntary pay cuts.

A letter sent by controlling company James Pascoe Ltd (JPL) Group directors Anne and David Norman in April said if the lockdown continued pay would drop by 10% each of the next two months.

On Monday the owners sent out an update to staff declaring pay would return to normal levels.

"As the owners of the business and supported by the board members and senior executives of all the companies in the Group, and with the proviso that unless the wheels fall off before the end of May, the decision has been taken to restore all wages and salaries payments to full levels,’’ the Normans wrote.

"In other words, provided that New Zealand remains at ... Level 2 ... and no change in the Covid position in [Australia], then everyone will be paid at 100% of their hourly wage or salary from the 1st June 2020.’’

The Otago Daily Times understands as much as 40% of some departments in the company’s support offices have been made redundant.

"Sadly some of support office roles have been overweight for many years and needed resetting,’’ Mr Norman said.

He would not say how many staff had been made redundant.

The Stevens stores — a subsidiary of Farmers — would be amalgamated to become a "brand owned by Farmers’’, he said.

"It is business as usual for the majority of the Stevens staff; it’s just they become Farmers team members.

In this country the JPL Group owns Farmers, Whitcoulls, Stevens, Pascoes, Stewart Dawsons and Goldmark.

The Farmers Trading Company Ltd has so far received a wage subsidy payment of $23,262,307.20 for 3597 workers.

The JPL Group has claimed a wage subsidy of $3,089,700 for 483 staff nationwide.

In Australia the company has about 500 jewellery stores (Prouds the Jewellers, Angus & Coote and Goldmark).

Since moving to Level 2 parts of the business had had an encouraging start; winter basics, health and beauty, underwear, small appliances and kitchen products were performing well.

"Ladies, Fashion and Formal on the other hand are not doing so well as under Level 2 there is limited opportunities to go out and about,’’ Mr Norman said.

James Pascoe Ltd Group was also building a "major mixed use’’ store for shopping, food and beverage, as well as two apartment towers in Tauranga.

Mr Norman said those jobs had reopened as soon as Level 2 came into force, despite whispers the project was to be mothballed because of Covid-19.




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