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Schuh shuts webstore as government advice proves confusing

Published
Mar 26, 2020
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Scottish footwear retailer Schuh has become the latest store chain to say it’s closing its online operations as well as its physical shops. The company said that its website would close temporarily from Thursday along with its already-closed stores across the UK, Ireland and Channel Islands. 


Schuh



So what's the reason for this move? “Our people, both employees and customers alike, are at the heart of our business,” CEO Colin Temple said. “As always and particularly during these trying times, we want to ensure we put their health and wellbeing first. Therefore, we have taken the decision to temporarily close our website as well as our stores, to ensure the safety of our teams and customers.”

A relatively large number of retailers in the UK simply don't have large online operations serviced from massive distribution hubs and rely on their shops instead, as we saw earlier this week when Fenwick shut down it web operations due to its shops being closed. But it doesn't necessarily seem that Schuh has a problem running its web ops when its stores are closed. In fact, the motivation behind this move seems to be more about the confusion arising from contradictory advice given by the UK government and the devolved Scottish government.

Temple added that “at this point in time, the UK Gov 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 [direct to consumer] operations based in Scotland and Scottish Gov advice conflicting with UK Gov advice, Schuh management have made the decision to close their website.” 

A number of DC staff have continued to indicate that they want to work within the warehouse to support the online business, along with other departmental employees offering their support. But management said the website and stores will remain closed until there’s updated UK and Scottish Gov advice. 

All employees will be paid while management seeks “to further understand Government business support”.

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