Australia markets closed

Woolies hiring 20000, others flag cuts

Steven Deare and Alex Druce
Woolies is creating 20,000 jobs at a time when coronavirus is forcing other firms to shut

Woolworths is creating 20,000 new jobs to meet a surge in demand but the list of companies shutting stores and standing down staff continues to grow.

Woolies on Friday said it has placed around 3,000 of its stood-down ALH Group team members in new roles across its BWS, Dan Murphy's and Woolworths Supermarkets and is preparing to offer up to 5,000 short-term roles to Qantas employees taking leave without pay.

The hiring comes as Australians continue panic buying at supermarkets, leaving some aisles empty.

Woolies on Tuesday stood down 8,000 workers following the government ban on pubs, clubs and hotels and postponed the separation and spin-off of its Endeavour division until 2021.

Coles supermarkets earlier this month offered 5,000 jobs to help better capitalise on the rampant buying of food and household goods.

Woolworths closed 5.25 per cent lower at $34.80 and Coles lost 4.95 per cent to $15.43.

Meanwhile homewares trader Adairs will join those retailers temporarily closing stores in Australia for the safety of staff and customers.

It will temporarily shut stores for four to six weeks after trade on Sunday.

Adairs has already shut its stores in New Zealand, and will continue trading online in both countries.

Clothing chain Kathmandu will take the same action today.

Kathmandu has about 170 stores in Australia and NZ, and more than 100 Rip Curl stores.

It is understood about 2,000 Australian store and head office staff, with the exception of a skeleton crew, will be stood down without pay for four weeks.

Kathmandu had already closed stores in regions including Brazil, Europe, New Zealand and North America.

The board has suspended dividend payments to shareholders and will postpone its half year results that were due to be released on Monday.

Kathmandu shares closed 13.02 per cent higher at 95.5 cents but Adairs shares lost 8.86 per cent to 72 cents.

Kathmandu workers join a growing number of Australians stood down from their jobs

On Thursday, Premier Investments - which owns the Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Portmans and Just Jeans stores - stood down 9,000 workers around the world.

Jewellery chain Lovisa and Athlete's Foot owner Accent Group on the same day temporarily closed 400 stores and 500 stores respectively.

Accent, which also owns the Platypus and Hype shoe chains, will stand down a reported 5,000 staff.

Mosaic Brands - the owner of Noni B, Rivers and Katies - said it will stand down 6,800 employees across 1,300 stores while Michael Hill Jewellers earlier this week announced it would shut 300 stores, including 165 in Australia.

The travel industry has suspended larger numbers of workers.

Qantas has stood down 20,000 of its 30,000 workers, and Virgin Australia has done the same for 8,000 workers.

Flight Centre says an initial 6,000 of its global sales and support staff globally will either be stood down or made redundant.