Laura Ashley, the popular British fashion and homeware retailer, has fallen victim to the harsh consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the company was forced to enter administration on March 17, leaving many employees in a difficult position. To make matters worse, the administrators from PwC determined that 268 head office and back office staff members would have to be let go due to the company’s financial struggles. In addition, all of the company’s physical stores have been closed, and the remaining store staff have been placed on furlough.

The impact on the store employees is significant, affecting nearly 1,700 individuals. However, the UK government has implemented a job retention scheme to support those on furlough. This scheme ensures that these employees will receive 80% of their salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500, paid by the government. While this financial support may provide some relief, the situation remains challenging for those affected.

Despite the closure of physical stores, Laura Ashley’s online business continues to operate. The staff members associated with the online operation are working remotely from their homes, adhering to social distancing guidelines. This strategy allows the company to maintain its online presence and generate revenue amid the crisis.

In an effort to secure the future of the brand and its employees, the administrators are presently engaging in discussions with potential buyers. These negotiations are crucial and will ultimately determine the fate of Laura Ashley. Though it is regrettable to have to announce redundancies, these measures are necessary to ensure the survival of the company in these uncertain times.

Considering the challenging job market resulting from the pandemic, the administrators are also working with various agencies and employers to help redundant employees find alternative employment opportunities. However, given the widespread impact of the virus, it may be difficult for individuals to secure new jobs at this moment, as many businesses are closed and recruitment activities are on hold.

The situation faced by Laura Ashley underscores the devastating consequences of the coronavirus outbreak on the retail industry. The administrators continue to exert their efforts to navigate these trying circumstances, with the aim of finding a solution that will guarantee the brand’s future while minimizing the impact on its employees. As discussions for a potential sale progress, there is hope that a positive outcome will be achieved, providing some relief to all those affected.

Useful links:
1. BBC – Laura Ashley enters administration
2. UK government job retention scheme