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Eason to cut 150 jobs as it plans phased reopening of stores

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 26/05/2020 George Morahan
a group of people walking on a city street © Provided by Extra.ie

Bookstore chain Eason has announced plans to cut 150 jobs as part of cost-cutting efforts ahead of the phased reopening of its outlets over the coming months.

Eason managing director Liam Hanley said in a letter to staff that the company needed to reduce costs by 30% to ensure sustainability and that staff with less than one year of service would be the focus of the job cuts.

The bookseller has entered into a consultation process with employees and union representatives and written to landlords and local authorities asking for reductions in rent and commercial rates over the next year.

a large clock mounted to the side of a building: Eason has announced it is cutting 150 jobs. Pic: Shutterstock © Provided by Extra.ie Eason has announced it is cutting 150 jobs. Pic: Shutterstock

Eason plans to reopen ‘selected company-owned stores on a trial basis around June 10’ but does not envisage the remainder of its stores resuming business before August under the government roadmap.

Footfall will be limited when Eason stores reopen, with Mr Hanley saying that ‘shopping will become functional and transactional with limited browsing.

‘Accordingly, Eason’s in-store experience will centre on in-store hygiene and the efficiency of transactions, in particular during key periods such as back to school and Christmas.’

The company doesn’t envisage all its stores reopening before August. Pic: Shutterstock © Provided by Extra.ie The company doesn’t envisage all its stores reopening before August. Pic: Shutterstock

Online sales have grown ‘exponentially’ during the COVID-19 lockdown, with the equivalent 80% of 2019 total book revenues having been generated through Eason’s e-commerce platform so far this year.

‘However, the success in online and changes in consumer behaviour underline the significant challenges faced and should the migration to online remain substantially or even partially permanent, this will have associated impact on footfall in stores,’ Mr Hanley warned.

He added that no staff had been laid off to date, with employees wages being supported by the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, despite Eason stores being closed since March 24.

a large clock mounted to the side of a building: The company said it needs to cut costs by 30% to ensure sustainability. Pic: Shutterstock © Provided by Extra.ie The company said it needs to cut costs by 30% to ensure sustainability. Pic: Shutterstock

‘This has been a very helpful scheme for Eason and many other companies in maintaining employment during the period to date and any extension of the scheme will be critical in supporting the business during our elongated reopening schedule,’ he said.

‘However, a detailed analysis of the most likely future trading scenarios for our business makes it clear that we cannot sustain the current cost base and we can’t achieve the required cost savings without implementing these regrettable measures now.

‘We have a focussed plan in place which will have to evolve and change as conditions and circumstances demand and each individual store will be different in terms of impacts and the actions required.’

a person sitting in front of a book shelf filled with books: Dubray Books operator Gemma Barry and Eason CEO Liam Hanly. © Provided by Extra.ie Dubray Books operator Gemma Barry and Eason CEO Liam Hanly.

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