Burberry has shut its New Jersey warehouse in the US for now over staff fears around social distancing. The news of the closure follows a report that three workers there had tested positive for the coronavirus.
That news was reported by Bloomberg, which said it had seen a memo sent to employees saying the facility will be closed indefinitely. The operation employs 300 people at full strength with several of them telling Bloomberg that social distancing was difficult to practice.
In response, the company said the workforce there had been reorganized so that fewer than 50 people were working per shift and that it had provided hand sanitizer, wipes, and surgical masks. Now that it has closed, the workers continue to receive full wages directly from the company.
Burberry also told Bloomberg it has a confidential hotline for employees to share concerns and that “if anyone [was] uncomfortable for any reason, we [were] allowing them to stay home on full pay until further notice”. In fact, the firm is currently paying all of its 10,000 workers in its domestic UK market and abroad.
So what impact will the New Jersey closure have on Burberry? It depends on how long it lasts. The facility is its only US warehouse. The Americas accounts for over a fifth of its sales and while the shutdown will lengthen delivery times to customers in the region, the company is continuing to take and fulfill orders, presumably by shipping product from other regions.
Most US clothing warehouses have continued to operate during the lockdown and are classed as essential logistics operations.