Coronavirus: Primark prepares to reopen stores

Senior staff have returned to stores to begin preparing for an eventual reopening after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, according to a report. (Getty)

Primark is preparing stores across the UK to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, according to a report by Drapers

Senior staff including store managers and assistarent managers have returned to stores across the fashion retailer’s UK sites since the end of last week in order to complete administrative tasks necessary for a post-lockdown reopening, according to Drapers. 

Although stores are being prepared for reopening once restrictions are lifted, they will only open their doors when government guidelines permit, and with the necessary safety measures.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Johnson's call to return to work 'recipe for chaos'

A spokesman told Drapers: “Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers. That is why we will only reopen our stores in the UK once we are convinced that it is safe and right to do so. We are closely following all safety advice from government and will treat this as the minimum standard across all our stores.” 

Primark closed its 189 UK shops in late March as part of the nationwide lockdown which forced all ‘non-essential’ shops to close. A further 187 shops elsewhere in Europe and in the US had already been closed.

In an update on how the UK will ease out of lockdown, prime minister Boris Johnson on Sunday announced that government is hoping that non-essential shops will start to reopen from 1 June.

Primark closed its 189 UK shops in late March. (PA)

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF.L) in April scrapped its dividend, furloughed 68,000 employees across Europe, and suspended its earnings guidance due to the coronavirus crisis.

The fast-fashion retailing giant, which does not operate an online store, said that it had gone from making £650m (£806m) in sales each month to selling “nothing” since it closed the last of its stores on 22 March.

READ MORE: Retail footfall plummets as UK obeys coronavirus lockdown

ABF chief executive George Weston said at the time: ”When we are allowed to reopen we must make our Primark stores safe for our staff and our customers, even if that means ensuring there are fewer people shopping at any one time and so accepting lower sales at least until the remaining risk is minimal. In time we can rebuild the profits. We can’t replace the people we lose. 

“One of the world’s great clothing retailers is entirely shut.

“We have paid for in full, and taken delivery of, very large amounts of completed stock which we can’t sell for now and we have established a fund that will ensure everyone in a vulnerable country who worked on a Primark garment, whether completed or not, is paid for that work. And we are supporting suppliers with commitments to buy garments that are as yet unfinished.

“But not until shops reopen and we can place new orders, will the economic hardship that COVID-19 has caused to all those in our supply chain begin to reduce.”

Watch the latest videos from Yahoo Finance UK