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Britain's Next bows to staff pressure and ceases online operation

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British clothing retailer Next has bowed to pressure from its worried workers and stopped its online operations during the coronavirus emergency.

[LONDON] British clothing retailer Next has bowed to pressure from its worried workers and stopped its online operations during the coronavirus emergency.

Next shut all its stores on Monday, a day before Britain went on lockdown, but continued to run its online business.

"Next has listened very carefully to its colleagues working in warehousing and distribution operations to fulfil online orders. It is clear that many increasingly feel they should be at home in the current climate," it said.

"Next has therefore taken the difficult decision to temporarily close its online, warehousing and distribution operations," it said.

The firm stopped taking online orders on Thursday evening and will not be taking any more until further notice.

With all of Britain's shops closed, apart from food stores, pharmacies and corner shops, there has been a growing backlash against retailers who continue to sell online.

Under measures introduced by the UK government last week employers can get grants to cover 80 per cent of the wages of people who are not working and are "furloughed", meaning they are kept on payroll rather then being laid off.

Next said last week it could sustain a hit from coronavirus of more than £1 billion(S$1.74 billion), or 25 per cent of annual sales, without exceeding its debt and bank facilities.

REUTERS