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New Look staff offers staff unpaid voluntary leave amid COVID-19 outbreak

Lauretta Roberts
21 March 2020

New Look has offered its 13,000-strong workforce the chance to take unpaid leave, reduce their hours or take up their holiday allowance for the foreseeable future as it prepares for a temporary shut-down of all of its stores due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis.

The young fashion chain issued a memo to staff on Friday, as reported by the Daily Mirror, in which it listed the options to staff both in store and head office roles.

A spokeswoman for New Look confirmed to the newspaper that the memo had been sent: "To help ease the impact of coronavirus on the business, we have asked if colleagues would consider voluntarily taking unpaid leave for up to 4 weeks or to work reduced hours temporarily."

Many major retailers are enacting voluntary shut-downs of "non-essential" stores before the government enforces the move, which is expected to be the next step in its nationwide move to contain the virus. So far Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stopped short of closing shops, but schools. pubs, restaurants and other leisure destinations have been closed in a bid to prevent unnecessary social contact.

Essential retail, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, will remain open during any enforced "lockdown".

Today John Lewis announced its department stores would close from the end of day on Monday while Sir Philip Green's Arcadia group said on Friday that it would be closing all of its stores until further notice.

Other major chains to have made the move to closure include Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lululemon, Nike, Gap and more. All of London's historic department stores have closed including Harrods (with the exception of its food hall and pharmacy), Liberty, Fenwick, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. The latter two have also closed stores outside of London.

For all of our COVID-19 updates, visit our dedicated content hub.

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