Coronavirus: McDonald's, Nando's and Primark shut UK branches amid outbreak

Monday 23rd March 2020 17:15 GMT

McDonald's was among the companies taking action, as industry figures published by Springboard revealed a 21.7% collapse in visits to the shops last week based on the previous seven days.

It said the decline was three times greater than the worst ever recorded as shoppers hunted essentials only amid growing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Laura Ashley, which called in administrators earlier this month, said 70 of its 147 outlets were to shut permanently, with the loss of 721 jobs, as a buyer for the fashion-to-homewares retailer continues to be sought.

Rival Next said its 700 stores would be closed from 6pm until further notice.

McDonald's, which has 135,000 workers in the UK and Ireland, said all its restaurants will close by 7pm - in a move the fast-food company says is to protect the safety of its employees and customers.

The move did not prevented customers flocking to outlets in advance of the deadline.

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Greggs said all its shops would be shut for the foreseeable future from the close of business on Tuesday - deciding there was too much risk in a takeaway-only service.

Costa Coffee and Subway were among rivals to also announce they were also temporarily shutting their doors while Primark was also closing.

Hairdressing chain Headmasters has said it will close its salons from 6pm on Monday as the family-run business was assured that Government support meant "salaries will be paid to all of our team members."

Card Factory has decided to temporarily close all of its shops and delay the opening of any new stores until the second half of the year.

The chicken restaurant chain Nando's also said it was to close more than 400 of its outlets in the UK until further notice, saying "the health and safety of our customers and team is our highest priority".

The announcements come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for pubs, clubs and restaurants to shut on Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak, although he stressed they could continue with a takeaway service.

McDonald's said: "We will work with local community groups to responsibly distribute food and drink from our restaurants in the coming days.

"Thank you to our brilliant employees for their hard work during this incredibly challenging time.

"We look forward to seeing you all again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen."

Primark has closed all its shops and ceased all orders with suppliers.

Its owner, Associated British Foods (ABF), said the closures would result in roughly £650m loss in net sales a month.

A statement said: "A variety of work streams have been established to mitigate the effect of the contribution lost from these sales and all expenditure is being reviewed.

"We currently estimate being able to recover some 50% of total operating costs."

Primark said it took the decision to shut stores, including all 189 sites in the UK, "the health and welfare of our employees and customers" in mind.

Some 37,000 workers will be affected by the closures but will be provided with full pay for 14 days.

John Lewis, Topshop, New Look and key cutting and shoe repair company Timpson have also announced store closures.

ABF earlier shut stores in France, Spain, Italy and Austria - where governments have already put restrictions on non-essential shops opening to try to combat the threat of coronavirus.

Airline Emirates says it will suspend flights to most destinations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Emirates has cut flight destinations from 145 locations to just 13 countries as demand for international travel falls and governments across the world try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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The airline has described it as a "painful but pragmatic" decision, which aims to protect jobs.

The company's chief executive Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum says they "cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns".

Emirates Group said it will continue to operate cargo flights through its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world.

It also said the company would reduce salaries for the majority of its employees for three months, but will not cut jobs.

Last week British Airways said its pilots will be taking a 50% pay cut in April and May.

EasyJet and the pilots' union have signed an agreement to minimise the risk of pilot lay-offs in the UK over the next 18 months, including a pay freeze and asking all crew to take unpaid leave for three months.

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