R.M. Williams, Cotton On, Country Road Latest To Close All Stores
Iconic Australian brand R.M Williams has become the latest retail store to shut its doors amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In a statement on Saturday night, the company said it will close all its Australian stores effective immediately.
Its global teams in New Zealand, the UK and US where the R.M Williams Boot Rooms are located have also temporarily closed.
"Australia, and central to that fabric, R.M.Williams, has shown through the decades and through recent times with the drought and bushfires that we are a people who adapt through tenacity, perseverance and a pioneering spirit," the company said.
"But, the COVID-19 crisis has stopped us mid stride so to say, on a global level, affecting humanity at every level."
It comes as another blow to the Australian retail industry which has seen dozens of brands shut their doors this week.
Earlier on Saturday, the Cotton On and Country Road groups also announced they would temporarily close their stores amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Cotton On Group and its eight brands -- Cotton On, Cotton On Body, Cotton On Kids, Rubi, Typo, Factorie and Supré -- will temporarily close stores from Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Country Road Group also announced the closure of its stores, which include Country Road, MIMCO, Witchery, Trenery and Politix, "until further notice".
Cotton On announced the decision to move all business online in a message seen across all their social media channels on Saturday morning.
With a text graphic that simply read "We're in it together", the notice thanked staff and customers "during this tough time" of a global pandemic due to the coronavirus.
All brick-and-mortar stores under the Cotton On Group will close from Sunday 5pm AEDT, with online shopping still available.
Free shipping is only applicable if orders amount to over $60 and contactless delivery is being offered.
The brand's Facebook page was inundated with overwhelmingly positive comments in reaction to the news, with staff members welcoming the move.
"Thank you for looking after your teams and our people. I’m so grateful to work for such an amazing and supportive company," wrote one woman.
"Thank you for coming to this decision. Our teams are so thankful and we’re excited to come back when the time comes," added another.
A short time later, Country Road Group CEO Scott Fyfe said the shut down of the retailer's stores would extend for at least four weeks from close of business on Saturday.
Online stores for each brand would also continue their operations.
"The COVID-19 situation is not improving and due to the small format of many of our retail stores and our commitment to strictly following the social distancing protocols in place, we will suspend trade until the current crisis improves," Fyfe said.
"We look forward to welcoming all team members back to their roles with us as soon as possible."
Retail giant David Jones also announced the closure of two of its smaller stores "where adherence to social distancing is not practical".
The smaller stores at Barangaroo in Sydney and James St in Brisbane will close from Saturday, but its other large format physical stores will remain open.
"We are confident that we can operate our stores safely and to the standards required by all current government health and safety directives," a spokesperson for the company said on Saturday.
"Health and safety will always be our primary focus, but we are also focused on supporting the livelihoods of our teams and their families for every day possible."
Smiggle, Myer, Peter Alexander, Portmans and Just Jeans are among other Australian brands to let go of retail workers and close doors due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
Retail chain Myer will stand down around 10,000 team members who worked across both its store network and support office.
Myer CEO John King said it was "one of the toughest decisions this company has faced in its 120 years of operation".
Brand Collective -- which owns stores such as Superdry, Clarks and Hush Puppies -- has also announced its stores will close this Sunday.
Kathmandu Group closed its entire retail network in Australia on Friday.
The group that owns Portmans, General Pants, Peter Alexander, Jacquie E, Smiggle, Just Jeans, Dotti and Jay Jays -- Premier Investments -- has shut down all their stores for a one month period.
These numbers add to the other stores such as Lovisa, The Athlete's Foot and Hype that have all shuttered their doors too.
Earlier this week, 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.