H&J Smith will be closing its doors for good later this year.

Following a four-week consultation process, H&J Smith Group announced on Monday the last day of trading for the Invercargill and Remarkables Park stores would be November 18.

The Gore store is also closing.

H&J Smith Group managing director Jason Smith said the consultation process had been emotionally tough.

‘‘It’s 28 years I’ve been managing director . . . so I’ve worked closely in this business for a long period of time, and a lot of these people I’ve worked pretty close to them.’’

Mr Smith said there had been a degree of shock when the closure was first proposed, and many staff had been working through a range of emotions.

Staff were informed of the final decision at 7pm on Monday.

The reasons for the closures varied, but ultimately the stores were not sustainable, he said.

Saddening … The H& J Smith Department Store on Main St, Gore. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

The group had looked through a programme of potential remediation of the Invercargill store that could take three to five years.

‘‘If we go down that path of totally rebuilding the store and bringing it up to standard and things, what does the business look like?

‘‘At that point, we couldn’t see a sustainable business period.’’

He said challenges included supply changes and the speed of those changes post-Covid.

‘‘We’ve tried our best to work it out to get through all these factors.’’

H&J Smith employed about 220 people — 190 in Invercargill, four in Gore and 20 in Queenstown.

Mr Smith said staff were being offered support through several key services, including counselling and career planning.

The company’s staff and determining the future of the business were the group’s two key priorities, Mr Smith said.

Chief executive John Green said supporting staff in the wake of the announcement was a top priority, and the Invercargill store would be closed for the day following the announcement to give their team space and time to absorb the news.