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Ikea shuts its doors but Aldi recruits new staff to take the strain

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Keeping a distance: Shoppers follow floor signs to aid social distancing outside a SuperValu in Lucan yesterday. Photo: Collins

Keeping a distance: Shoppers follow floor signs to aid social distancing outside a SuperValu in Lucan yesterday. Photo: Collins

Colin Keegan

Keeping a distance: Shoppers follow floor signs to aid social distancing outside a SuperValu in Lucan yesterday. Photo: Collins

Ikea became Ireland's latest commercial casualty of the coronavirus, as its Ballymun outlet temporarily closed from 6pm.

But supermarket Aldi has launched a recruitment drive targeting laid-off retail, catering and hospitality staff to reinforce its 4,000-strong workforce as it battles to keep store shelves stocked.

The German retailer's announcement cut against the grain of a retail sector that has been battered by a wave of shutdowns and suspended services.

A host of top retail chains have suspended face-to-face trade in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like others temporarily closing this week - including Brown Thomas and Arnotts - Ikea said it would seek to keep business going via online sales.

Ikea said none of its 693 staff in Ireland - including at its satellite order-and-collect outlet in Carrickmines - would be laid off as a result of the closures. Workers will continue to perform warehouse and delivery functions in coming days and weeks.

"These are extraordinary times, and our absolute priority is to ensure the health and safety of our customers and co-workers," said Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer for Ikea.

Aldi said it was reducing opening hours at its 142 outlets nationwide to take some pressure off existing staff. All now will open at 9am, an hour later than normal, and close at 8pm, one to two hours earlier.

Aldi buying director John Curtin said opening hours were narrowing "to help support our colleagues, who have been working tirelessly, and to ensure our stores are at their best every day".

Aldi said it is joining Lidl, Tesco and Iceland in launching dedicated hours for elderly shoppers. It said other customers should leave 11am to 1pm daily to elderly and vulnerable shoppers.

Tesco has set aside 8am-9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for elderly customers and carers. Lidl has designated 9am-11am daily for shoppers aged 65 or older. In all cases, the stores are seeking other shoppers' cooperation.

Ikea's Ballymun shop had already closed its food outlets and increased its cleaning routines.

Irish Independent