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A Story of how Covid-19 is Changing the Irish Retail Landscape

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in significant disruption in many industries, but unquestionably the  most negatively impacted are the hospitality and retail sectors, both of which are heavily reliant on people and face to face interaction. There are undoubted challenges for businesses as a whole at the end of all this, and nobody knows with any great certainty how the Irish economy will react once the threat of Covid-19 has passed.

What we don't want to see is employees becoming the collateral damage in this evolving scenario.

For the retail sector, the post-pandemic recovery is very much down to keeping those retailers that have closed shop afloat, so that once things return to normal, they can resume trading both on the high street and online.

First Casualties in Retail

However there have been some notable casualties already Debenhams, Warehouse, Oasis where liquidators have been appointed to all. In terms of job losses Debenhams closure will see up to 1500 people lose their jobs. In relation to Cork city this sees the Closure of  Debenhams Mahon Point & Debenhams Patrick Street. Taken into consideration with the loss of Warehouse & Oasis it seriously undermines the retail offer in Cork city. But more importantly it creates a serious number of job losses.


Regarding Debenhams closure which as the Covid-19 crisis continues, could be replicated throughout the retail sector again and again. The basic facts surrounding Debenhams decision to cease operations was arising out of its UK-based parent’s decision to enter administration and seek an application to appoint  provisional liquidators. This came after the company was informed by its UK parent that it was no longer in a position to provide it with financial support. However Debenhams plans to reopen most of its UK stores post Covid- 19 restrictions.

As a consequence it would seem only fair and reasonable that Debenhams UK which has been financially supporting Debenhams Retail Ireland over a number of years. Would provide some funding to ensure its Irish employees were offered a reasonable package. Whilst it will not make up for them losing their jobs and the hardship this will cause. It would be a recognition for their service and in some way help them plan for the future.

Regretfully I fear we are likely to see more of these type of closures in the coming weeks and months as a direct impact of the Covid-19 crisis. What we don't want to see is employees becoming the collateral damage in this evolving scenario.

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