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Schuh closes website amid "conflicting" government advice about employee safety

Sadiyah Ismailjee
26 March 2020

Footwear retailer, Schuh has closed its website operation and all of its high-street stores amid what it said was “conflicting” government advice about employee safety during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Livingston-headquartered footwear retailer said that along with its stores that were already closed across the UK, Ireland and the Channel Islands, it had decided to shut its online operation temporarily during the Coronavirus crisis.

Chief executive Colin Temple said: “At this point in time, the UK government guidelines include that online retail should ‘still open’ and ‘is encouraged’ along with advice that if staff cannot reasonably work from home, they should continue to go into work."

“However, with the Schuh head office and DC operations based in Scotland and Scottish Government advice conflicting with UK government advice, Schuh management have made the decision to close their website, in addition to their stores that already closed from the evening of Sunday 22 March.”

Schuh highlighted that its staff and customers are a key priority for the business and wanted to ensure that it put their health and wellbeing first.

All employees will continue to be supported by Schuh and will be paid while management seek to further understand the government business support available.

Temple added: “The welfare of employees is Schuh’s key priority, including critical mental health support at this key time. All staff already have access to my rT wellbeing service (previously known as RetailHUB) where there is confidential support including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, critical incident support as well as hardship grants and legal guidance."

To show its appreciation to the British health care system, Schuh will also be offering "blue light workers a permanent discount, when they reopen. This key community will receive 20 per cent off everything."

The footwear retailer is also sporting "mental health charity, The Mix, who provide essential support to under 25s, to share regular advice on mental wellness during this very difficult period for all.”

Last year, Schuh appointed advisers from KPMG to tackle high rents on its 132-strong store estate.

The business was founded in 1981 and has more than 120 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland. US group Genesco bought Schuh in 2011 for some £125 million.

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