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Superdry, Hush Puppies Latest To Close After 30,000 Jobs Lost This Week

Brand Collective is the latest victim of Australia’s retail collapse after an estimated 30,000 workers in the sector lost their jobs this week.

Stores such as Superdry, Clarks and Hush Puppies are owned by the retailer.

The business announced all stores will be closing on Sunday.

The company employs more than 1,700 people nationwide, although not all will lose their jobs.

Hardship packages have been offered to those now without work and the company hopes all staff will return when the stores reopen.

It's the latest in a long list of closure alerts the country has weathered in the last week.

Earlier Kathmandu Group announced it would be closing its entire retail network in Australia by 5pm Friday.

At least 2,000 workers from Kathmandu and Rip Curl stores, as well as most head office staff, have lost their jobs.

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On Thursday, Premier Investments, which owns retail brands Portmans, General Pants, Peter Alexander, Jacquie E, Smiggle, Just Jeans, Dotti and Jay Jays, announced it would shut the doors on its stores for one month.

Across Premier Investment's 900 stores nationally, 7,000 workers are now without a job.

These numbers add to the other stores such as Lovisa, The Athlete's Foot and Hype that have all shuttered their doors too.

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The SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers, told 10 daily the number of retail workers now unemployed is growing almost hourly.

Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary of the SDA, called the closure of Premier Investment's brands a "disaster" and a sign of things to come if the government does not implement measures to support the sector.

"In the absence of government support flowing through to businesses and workers right now, shops across the nation are shutting their doors, we must all work now to ensure that is NOT forever," he said.

"If these retail businesses are to survive in the long term, small, medium and large size retail businesses need government financial support now."

Thousands have descended on Centrelink this week as the coronavirus pandemic affects jobs. Image: AAP

The union is working with the Australian Retailers' Association to urge the government for a multi-billion dollar Australian Retail Industry Rescue Package calling for three measures.

The measures include wage subsidies for retail workers to protect their income and jobs and a government guarantee of rent payments from retailers to landlords (or rent reduction measures so retailers can use savings to pay workers).

The joint approach is also asking for underwriting a line of credit for retailers to ensure they can continue to trade without being insolvent.

Image: AAP

“Australian retail is the largest private-sector employer in Australia, with 1.3 million people -- many of them younger Australians, women, and seniors -- in retail jobs,” said Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of ARA.

“The ARA is in constant communication with its members, and early reports were that revenue across the board was down 30 per cent for March compared to last year; our latest feedback is that turnover has fallen much more sharply than that."

ARA told 10 daily discussions are ongoing with relevant parties in regards to the Australian Retail Industry Rescue Package.

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The SDA spokesperson said it was "almost impossible" to put a numerical figure on the number of people who would be eligible for welfare at this stage.

But Dwyer urged to the government to act now to make sure retail workers can continue to put food on the table and pay their mortgage or rent.

"Do nothing and the welfare bill will be bigger for longer, some retailers will never open their doors again and the downturn will be longer," he said.