Coronavirus: Primark closing all stores but will pay staff wages

Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
A Primark clothing store, operated by Associated British Foods.  Photo: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
A Primark clothing store, operated by Associated British Foods. Photo: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Popular clothing store Primark, owned by Associated British Foods (ABF.L), announced that it will close all its 189 stores across Britain, which will affect around 37,000 staff.

The group said in a tweet: “With the health and welfare of our employees and customers at the front of our minds we have made the decision to close our stores in the UK, until further notice. A huge thanks to all our employees, customers, suppliers and partners for their continued support.”

The group also said that separately that for the next 14 days at least, it would continue to pay its staff's contracted wages. It said it would review the situation at a later date.

According to KPMG’s latest quarterly economic outlook, it warned that high street closures will push the UK into a deep recession this year.

Primark’s announcement comes at the same time as the UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s daily press conference where he threatened to impose stricter measures on society if people continued to ignore social distancing rules.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Markets poised as France could help tip UK into lockdown

Currently, the UK government is following the ‘suppression’ strategy, leads to some restrictions on wider society. However, this is not a lockdown — that would involve official measures and authorities stopping the movement of people and officially imposing closures.

Today (22 March), Johnson said "my message is you've got to do this in line with the advice, you've got to follow the social distancing rule — keep 2 metres apart.

"Otherwise if you don't do it responsibly... as you suggest there is going to be no doubt that we will have to bring forward further measures and we are certainly keeping that under constant review."

This weekend, according to French newspaper Liberation (link in French), citing unnamed sources in French president Emmanuel Macron’s office, Macron gave Johnson the ultimatum that unless he installs more stringent measures to contain the coronavirus, then there will be an entry ban on any traveller from the UK.

“We had to clearly threaten him to make him finally budge,” said a source in the Liberation report.