The Warehouse Group Ltd said today it would keep its 92 Warehouse stores open as New Zealand enters Covid-19 alert level 4. And by early afternoon I had a protest email in my inbox, a petition calling on people to boycott the store chain for irresponsibility.
By 6pm, the online petition had over 1400 signatories.
All up, the group has 258 stores operating under The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming, Torpedo 7, 1-day & TheMarket brands.
Group chief executive Nick Grayston said in the company statement: “The 92 stores of The Warehouse will remain open for business for Kiwis during the Government-sanctioned level 4 Covid-19 isolation period.
“The Warehouse is a provider of key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people such as food & beverage, groceries, cleaning items, health & beauty items including toiletries, winter essentials eg blankets, clothing & heaters and stationery & office supplies for home schooling & work-from-home needs.
“Online stores across all of our brands (not only The Warehouse) and our distribution & fulfilment centres will also continue to operate to provide contactless delivery to those at home and to essential businesses.
“At this stage it is more important than ever that we live up to our purpose of helping Kiwis live better every day by making sure that we show up for our communities in the way that they need. In the past 2 weeks the group has seen unprecedented demand for essential items across all our brands. Goods sold included essential items to prepare themselves for the mandatory isolation period of at least 4 weeks.
“In our response as a business to Covid-19, our primary priority is the safety of team members & our customers and we have put in place measures to keep our people safe, including new protocols in stores, additional cleaning and additional leave & wellbeing support. We are working with New Zealand’s 2 major supermarkets to submit to Government personal protection equipment requirements & supply for our people.
“Customers in store will be asked to adhere to new protocols including social distancing and limiting purchasing, in some cases, to 2 items/product.
“We will continue to evolve our protection protocols for our team members and we are well aware that, as one of the largest New Zealand employers with 12,000 employees, the group’s ability to keep its Warehouse brand & group fulfilment centres open not only helps customers with key essentials but it goes some way to ensuring the sustainability of the business for communities, customers & stakeholders.”
The petition on www.change.org doesn’t say who started it, beyond giving the initials JH, who said it was started to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, adding: “The Warehouse Group want to keep 92 stores open during NZ lockdown as they sell ‘essential’ items. But their essential items are covered by supermarkets & pharmacies.
“We need to minimise community exposure and this is not the way. The Warehouse group staying open makes a mockery of the lockdown and these places will become community virus factories. This will contribute to prolong the lockdown of New Zealand.
“Boycott the Warehouse Group for being an irresponsible business. Do what you can to get NZ through this quickly. Don’t prolong lockdown by community spread.”
Attribution: Company release, petition.