Coronavirus: Seven Bunnings stores confirmed to close


Rangiora Bunnings is one of seven that will close by the end of June as a result of Covid-19.

Emma Dangerfield/Stuff

Rangiora Bunnings is one of seven that will close by the end of June as a result of Covid-19.

Bunnings Warehouse has confirmed the closure of seven stores by the end of June, affecting 145 staff.

The closures were first proposed on May 12, ahead of a period of consultation with affected team members.

The final decision to close stores had been driven by the trading environment that resulted from Covid-19 and from other factors including lease arrangements, individual store performance and location, Bunnings New Zealand director Jacqui Coombes said.

Some locations had always been temporary, she said.

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The Ashburton warehouse, four smaller format stores in Cambridge, Rangiora, Te Awamutu and Putaruru, and two trade centres in Hornby and Hastings will close permanently.

Coombes said current conditions had led to the “incredibly difficult” decision, which was made to ensure the long-term performance of the business and its 4500 staff.

“Our absolute focus and priority now is the welfare of the 145 team members who are affected, and we will work closely with them through this process.”

Team members would be redeployed to other locations where practical and others would receive redundancy packages reflective of their time spent working for the company. Career support, advice and counselling services would also be made available, Coombes said.

The seven stores were expected to close by the end of June, so staff would be employed at the stores for another four weeks to help pack down the stores, she said.

Mitre 10 and Bunnings are the two great rivals of the DIY and building supplies retail industry. (Video first published March 6, 2020)

First Union organiser Kirstin Miller slammed the decision, saying Bunnings had not provided sufficient information to justify closing the stores.

“They provided us with very scant financial information that only goes back to December. And yet they’re trying to say that these stores hadn’t been performing well for years with no information to back that up.”

The company had not considered alternatives to the closures either, Miller said.

First Union had asked Bunnings to wait to see if things “would come right following Covid”, but it refused.

Affected staff were upset and angry, she said.

“They feel like the company doesn’t care about them at all.”

Staff had been told not speak to the media, and despite being challenged by the union, the restriction had not been lifted as far as she was aware, Miller said.

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Staff hoping to be redeployed would probably be to too scared to so anyway, she said.

The proposed closure of the Ashburton store had been “heartbreaking” for the local community, who had started a petition to keep it open, she said.

With the nearest store 90 kilometres away in Christchurch, the redeployment opportunities were very slim.

The union was still in the process of disputing the closures and had Bunnings told it believed any dismissals at this point would be unjustified, Miller said.

A Bunnings spokeswoman said the company had written to First Union addressing each of their concerns.

All feedback during the consultation process had been reviewed and responded to and changes to its store network were carefully considered, she said.

The company would work with each affected member of staff “on options and support”, she said.

Coombes said customers would be redirected to the company’s other 46 locations around the country or to “a new online offer”.

New store developments at Westgate and Queenstown would go ahead as planned, she said.

Bunnings closed three smaller format stores at Te Aroha, Waikenae and Paeroa following a review late last year.