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Michael Hill To Close Down 300 Stores, Leaving Thousands Out Of Work

Australian jeweller Michael Hill has become the first retailler to shut down over the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of its employees now out of work.

The iconic jeweller employs close to 1,600 staff in Australia and has 304 stores across Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Michael Hill said it would close at least 165 of its stores immediately.

The retailler said in a statement the day-to-day operations of the store meant it was unable to comply with the social distancing rules required by the Federal Government.

"The drop off in trade the company has experienced in Australia also reflects a customer base that is, of course, focused on more immediate issues,’’ a spokesperson said.

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"Whilst it is clear that the suspension of our store networks is necessary for the safety and wellbeing of our people and our customers – we know also that this will be a time of great uncertainty for them too, and we are doing our best to provide them with the support that they need through this difficult time."

Last year the company confessed to underpaying Australian staff by up to $25 million.

The news comes after swimwear brand Tigerlily entered voluntary administration on Monday after considering the impacts of the coronavirus.

Do you have a story tip? Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au