There is confusion over whether The Warehouse will keep its 92 Red Sheds open as a supplier of essential consumer goods, as other companies are shutting down.

Big businesses are taking different approaches to the looming national lockdown.

The level four lockdown of the country begins at 11.59pm on Wednesday as the country tries to stop the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.

The Warehouse says its 92 Red Sheds will stay open as a supplier of essential consumer goods, but its other brands – Noel Leeming, Torpedo 7 and Warehouse Stationery will be shut.

“In the past two weeks the group has seen unprecedented demand for essential items across all our brands. Goods sold included essential items to prepare themselves for the mandatory isolation period of at least four weeks,” the company said in a statement to the Stock Exchange.

It said shoppers would be required to keep to social distancing rules, and there would be a limit on some purchases. However, the Warehouse’s online shopping service would continue and contactless deliveries made.

But at the latest government briefing this afternoon, MBIE spokesperson Paul Stocks could not say whether The Warehouse was considered an essential business, and whether it would be permitted to open.

“We are working though those firms that will be allowed to remain open.

“I would caution firms from leaping to judgments about what their status will be, before they have received an adjudication from the government.”

Stocks said an 0800 number would be established for businesses confused about essential services.

But he said if you are not sure if you are an essential business, you are probably not.

Jewellery retailer Michael Hill International said it will close all its New Zealand and Australian stores. Its Canadian stores have been closed for more than a week.

The company said staff were being stood down and told to use leave, while it looked at government wage support schemes. It has also scrapped a planned interim dividend payout.

Meanwhile, the country’s biggest retirement village operator, Ryman Healthcare, said it has withdrawn its profit outlook for the year as well as its construction targets.

Ryman Healthcare said it will keep taking new residents to its villages, although they would be isolated in line with guidelines.

“We have 3,000 in care and more than 8,000 others to look after and that is the focus,” a spokesperson said.

It’s also stopping all building work at development sites and has scrapped its earnings forecast for the year because it expects sales of units to be severely restricted.

Early childhood centre operator Evolve has confirmed all its centres will shut, but it will receive its government funding during the period, but there’s doubt over parent paid fees and the company has also withdrawn its earnings forecasts.

Property developer Precinct Properties is also shutting down its building sites, which include the massive retail-office Commercial Bay project in Auckland.

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

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