One of Britain’s biggest independent stores is facing a “huge challenge” as it prepares to reopen after being shut for 12 weeks due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Jarrold, which has a five-floor department store in the centre of Norwich, is celebrating 250 years of trade this year.
But soon after it started marking the anniversary, it was instructed to close and its 390 staff were furloughed.
Chief executive of Jarrold Retail Minnie Moll said: “Lockdown has certainly been a huge challenge and now we face the new challenge of trading in a very different environment while keeping our brand experience strong.”
British retail sales plummeted by record levels in April as many stores closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Office for National Statistics figures showed the amount of goods sold fell by 18.1% last month.
Ms Moll said 100 staff would be working when it reopens on 15 June.
Despite an upturn in online trade, the business has seen a “significant loss” overall.
Preparations have now stepped up with about 30 workers taken off the government furlough scheme to prepare the store.
“We had thought we might be open sometime around 11 June, so when we heard it would be 15 June we were already putting in Perspex screens at tills and floor stickers to mark out social distancing are shortly arriving,” she said.
While no retail firm is ruling out possible future redundancies in the current climate, Jarrold is hoping customer loyalty will help it succeed.
Ms Moll said a trading recovery would be “long and slow”.
“That’s the reality and there’s no room for complacency,” she said.
Jarrold: The history of a family-run firm
- 1770: John Jarrold I opens his grocers and drapers in the Market Place, Woodbridge, Suffolk
- 1811: John Jarrold II buys a farm at Dallinghoo, Suffolk and, aside from mixed agriculture, he establishes a printing press there
- 1823: Sets up as a bookseller, publisher and printer in Norwich, at 3 Cockley Lane (now London Street)
- Early 1900s: Printing works in Norwich employ about 1,500 workers
- 2005: Sale of printing and publishing arms, with focus now solely on retail and property
Source: Jarrold website
Photos: Martin Barber