The downsizing at Gore’s H&J Smith department store will leave the store with just a womenswear and accessories department.
A staff member who did not wish to be named said the womenswear and accessories would be relocated into the space where the menswear department was at present.
“That’s it, so everything else is going,” the staff member said.
Customers were talking to staff and commenting how lucky it was the store was only downsizing. Staff would then have to say no “we’re all losing our jobs”.
“They’re going to keep on three maybe four staff in that store,” the staff member said.
“There’s been customers that have burst into tears when they find out.
“They are just so shocked.
“It’s left up to the girls to have to explain to the customers over and over and over, this is what is happening.”
H&J Smith chief executive John Green confirmed the store would be reduced to womenswear and accessories.
“We’re actually getting out of the main store building and the plan at this stage, the proposal, is the end of August,” Mr Green said.
There was a process to be worked through with staff.
“That doesn’t pacify all of the public curiosity.
“The reality is right now the best thing for the public [is] to just leave the staff alone to work their way through this.”
The staff member could not understand why the store was being downsized when it had a monopoly in the town for many items.
The effect would ripple around other businesses in the town.
“It will affect the whole of Gore.
“H&J’s are the nucleus of the stores in Gore and with losing them, people are going to go to Invercargill more and it will be at the detriment of the other stores in Gore.”
The business had very good support locally.