Farmers, The Warehouse, apply for wage subsidies

Large retailers have been quick to apply for government wage subsidies during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Warehouse has received $67.7 million to cover the labour costs of the shutdown of its Red Shed, Torpedo, Noel Leeming, and Warehouse Stationery chains, which between them employ about 11,000 staff.

"The receipt of this funding is crucial to the Group maintaining its workforce while stores remain shut and the Group thanks the government for this support," the company said in a stock exchange statement.

Virtually all Warehouse operations have shut down, although it's using some stores and its distribution centres to fill on-line orders of essential items.

The company has also beefed up its finances by getting an $150m in debt facilities from its banks.

Other large retailers have also received big amounts.

Department store chain Farmers Trading has received $18.8m, Christchurch based retail group Smiths City $3.1m, and the outdoor goods retailer Kathmandu $3.6m.

No other major company listed on the stock exchange has been given payments under the scheme, apart from Auckland International Airport, which has got $4.3m.

However, major employers such as Fletcher Building and Sky City Entertainment may seek assistance.

Most nationwide retail chains, such as hardware centres, fast food outlets, and pharmacies, are usually franchise or co-operative groups, which means individual businesses have been paid for claims.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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