John Bull announced yesterday that it is reducing its staff by 15 percent as more than 60 percent of its locations remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With over 60 percent of our locations still closed for business — and a devastating blow to the company’s revenue — it is with a heavy heart and great regret that we must now move to reducing our staff complement by 15 percent,” the company said in a statement.
“This action is extremely difficult, however, very necessary in order for John Bull to continue to be able to function now, as well as on the other side of this pandemic, by way of a healthy employer and place of empowerment.
“We remain hopeful and prayerful that things will turnaround sooner rather than later to avoid continued economic fallout for our company and nation.”
While noting that it made “every effort to secure employment” for its staff, John Bull said the economic fallout of the pandemic has been “greater than we could have ever imagined”.
“Unprecedented times is a term that is being used globally to describe the past few months and for John Bull, it succinctly sums up what we are currently experiencing in the business,” it said.
“Going into this pandemic, we stood firm by our commitment to always put our team first and promised that we would assist in mitigating the financial impact as much as and as long as corporately possible.”
John Bull said it extended full salaries to its employees throughout the “first few weeks” of the emergency orders, which was imposed by the prime minister in late-March and included the closure of all non-essential businesses.
The company noted that all of its locations were closed during that period.
“This scenario was not sustainable and in the ensuing weeks the company eventually extended exgratia payments to each employee representing up to 50 percent of their salary,” it said.
“As the economic downturn continues with the announcement of delayed cruise ship arrivals to the port of Nassau along with uncertain reopening dates for local resorts, some very tough decisions are necessary to secure the company if we intend to have a future in retail beyond our 91-year legacy.
“We had hoped to be in a position to retain all of our staff, but given the current and foreseeable future state of affairs, it is impossible.”
The luxury goods retailer is the latest company to announce staff cuts as the economic situation surrounding the pandemic worsens.
Last month, Baha Mar announced that it was reducing its staff across Grand Hyatt, SLS, Rosewood, Melia, casino and Baha Mar’s shared services.
Previous reporting by The Nassau Guardian indicated the resort’s plan to make 20 percent of its 6,000 member staff redundant, which represents 1,200 employees.
In May, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said unemployment was expected to soar to a staggering 30 percent as 25,000 people have either been laid off or have lost their income due to the pandemic.