Irish department store Clerys has asked its staff to work a four-day week in a bid to avoid axing jobs.
Clerys, the iconic store on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, is set to introduce the reduced working week for 39 weeks.
120 staff are affected and will see their pay cut by 20% during the period. Concession staff are not affected but employees at Clerys’ discount subsidiary Guineys will also be affected.
The news followed Debenhams’ decision to enter into a consultation period with its staff in the Republic of Ireland, which could lead to 170 redundancies.
The Irish market has borne the brunt of a severe recession. Irish retail body Retail Excellence Ireland reported that like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter of 2009 dropped 11.7% in footwear, 16.6% in womenswear and 21.2% in menswear year on year. It said the retail industry was in “great distress” in the country.
Clerys workers were set to ballot on the department store’s decision as Drapers went to press.
Sales at Clerys dropped 10% in the year to January 31, 2009, and it made a loss of €308,613 (£270,244) compared with a €1.6m (£1.4m) profit the previous year.
A spokesman for Debenhams said the department store retailer hoped most of the redundancies at its 11 Irish stores would be voluntary. He added that Debenhams remained committed to the country, where it has invested €45m (£39.4m) in the past few years.