The owner of Noni B, Rivers and Katies will shut down 1,349 stores indefinitely, standing down nearly 7,000 employees

Major fashion retailer Mosaic Brands has become the latest to shut stores and stand down staff indefinitely, announcing on Wednesday it was unable to keep stores open following the government’s social distancing mandate.

Mosaic, which owns brands such as Noni B, Rivers and Katies, told investors on Wednesday morning it would suspend all store operations from Thursday onwards as sales across Australia’s retail sector continue to steeply decline.

The company’s stable of brands also includes W.Lane, Millers, Crossroads, Autograph, Beme, and Rockmans.

The company is one of the retailers hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as its stores largely cater to older customers who are more vulnerable and wary of catching the virus.

Nearly 7000 team members will be stood down across the business’ 1379 odd stores with access to leave entitlements while the company reviews what government support may be available.

“The group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the government’s “social distancing” recommendations,” Mosaic said.

“The group is working with its business partners and is reviewing its cost of doing business, with a view to reducing costs to match expected revenue.”

Online operations will continue to run during the shutdown period. The retailer did not specify how long the shutdown would last.

The shutdown continues a string of poor fortune for Mosaic, which was one of the retailers most affected by the summer’s bushfire crisis, as its stores largely skew towards regional locations.

On Tuesday, Michael Hill jewellers announced it would also indefinitely shut its 300 stores globally due to the coronavirus pandemic, also saying it was not possible to keep doors open while complying with social distancing directives.

It is expected a great number of retailers will follow suit in the coming days, as federal and state governments continue to ramp up their response to COVID-19.

This story originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the original story here.

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