Ballantynes redundancies 'last resort'

Christchurch's Cashel Street
Photo / Herald on Sunday Photograph
Christchurch's Cashel Street Photo / Herald on Sunday Photograph

Iconic Christchurch department store Ballantynes could make as many as 40 staff redundant over insurance issues because of the February earthquake.

The Star learned yesterday that staff were told they either had to take redundancy or re-apply for their jobs. But there was no guarantee that they would get their jobs back.

Between 30 and 40 staff are expected to be affected by the restructuring, from a total headcount of more than 300 employees.

Staff were told the redundancies were a "last resort".

Managing director Mary Devine said the company was undertaking a full consultation with staff on the proposed restructure.

"For a company like Ballantynes, this is an incredibly hard step to take. But having lost space with the demolition of Anderson Building and Stables as well as New Zealand Gifts in the Guthrey Centre and uncertainty over the Contemporary Lounge, we really had to look at our entire staff structure," she said in a statement.

"It's important to note that we will still maintain staffing levels in excess of 250 in support and sales staff for our City Mall shop," she added.

Sources have said that Ballantynes were being forced to restructure because of pressure from the company's insurers, though the company has denied this.

The central city store which has been closed since February 22 was expected to reopen on October 29 in time for Cup Week.

Ballantynes had been paying staff wages since the central city store closed.

"Pre-earthquakes there were 52,000 people within the Four Avenues. This is significantly reduced and will remain so over the next few years while the rebuild takes place," Devine said.

The retailer has a store at Christchurch International Airport and in Timaru.

A weekend sale last month at CBS Arena was popular with shoppers who queued outside for hours awaiting their shopping fix.

The store also began a twice-weekly bus service to its Timaru branch for dedicated shoppers.

Almost 1500 customers have taken the trip south.

Ballantynes was established in 1854, originally named Dunstable House. John Ballantyne took over the store in 1872 and opened the Timaru branch in 1883.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE / STAR CANTERBURY

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