Retailer prepares to go online

Customers at the new Value city outlet at Victoria Parade in Suva. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU/FILE

Value City has begun preparatory works for its online sales platform as the company has received daily enquiries from customers wishing to buy affordable clothing.

This was initiated when Suva went into lockdown which resulted in the closure of its warehouses, head office and all branches in the containment area.

Managing director Vera Chute said there was a big volume of products and a lot of work involved with selection, pricing, photography and categorising.

“It is unfortunate that we have not been given the approval to reopen our business in the Lami to Nausori corridor as we have been classified as a non-essential business,” she said.

“For this reason, we are now not able to access our warehouse for stocks. Also, due to this factor, our online sales launch is temporarily on hold.

“We receive inquiries and requests for online sales every day from our customers, especially from mothers who would like to buy warm clothing for their families and expectant mums who need affordable baby clothing.”

Ms Chute said this would be viable as the customer demand was there and they would continually strive to better their services.

“The second wave of the pandemic saw a six-week closure of our Nadi branch, Lautoka branch and warehouse. These have reopened last week Wednesday,” she said.

Six branches, two warehouses and the head office were still closed as the Lami-Nausori corridor went into the sixth week of containment.

“Having only seven of our 15 branches operational has had a huge impact on the business as we still have overheads, operating costs, import duty/freight, et cetera to pay.

“Management is constantly in touch with all 101 staff who are within the containment zone. Their wellbeing is our priority. We have rolled out assistance to them in various ways. They have also accessed the FNPF payment and government assistance programs,” she said.

The company had paid out annual leave for employees who had requested this and offered interest-free loans which would be repaid once everyone was back on full pay.

“We will not be laying off any staff. Instead, we have collectively come to an agreement that we will all work reduced hours. This way, everyone will able to work and have something to take home on pay day,” said Ms Chute.

Meanwhile, Value City has used the time to put its staff members through mandatory virtual training on standard operating procedures for a COVID-19-safe workplace.

“This ensures that each staff member is aware of all protocols, requirements to make all Value City workplaces COVID-safe and, therefore, work-ready in the new norm.”

Ms Chute said the company had its orders from overseas done three months in advance.

“This has now caused overcrowding in our warehouses.

“We have ample stocks on the ground and now, all we need is the reopening of our major branches.”

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