Boss of Jarrold fears footfall could be down by 50pc when store re-opens

PUBLISHED: 10:45 02 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:45 02 May 2020

Minnie Moll, CEO of Jarrold. Pic: Archant

Minnie Moll, CEO of Jarrold. Pic: Archant

The CEO of Norwich’s family-run department store Jarrold has revealed plans for when it is allowed to re-open.

Minnie Moll, CEO of Jarrold, pictured before the coronavirus lockdown. Pic: ArchantMinnie Moll, CEO of Jarrold, pictured before the coronavirus lockdown. Pic: Archant

Minnie Moll spoke as the store just started running its website again after the coronavirus shutdown.

Ms Moll, who took over as CEO in 2018, said it was going to be tough for retailers. Her instinct was that the number of shoppers coming into the store, when it was given the government go-ahead to re-open, would be significantly down.

“It’s going to be tough, my instinct is footfall will be down, it could be down as much as 50%, but we hope to gradually build it up.”

Jarrold, celebrating its 250th anniversary with a raft of special celebrations and events planned, closed the store in March in line with Boris Johnson’s instruction to retailers. Ms Moll said: “I felt gutted to shut it down, everyone’s got their story but why I felt so gutted was that we were on a fabulous roll, we’d had such fabulous feedback, new customers, it wasn’t as if we were just tootling along.”

And unlike some other stores, the website closed too. “We had to work out how we could do it safely, Other stores have large warehouses, we pick from the shop floor, it’s efficient. Colleagues go round with their clipboards.”

She said 11 staff have been unfurloughed (the store has almost 400) to manage the website.

Being closed completely has lost Jarrold substantial income but Ms Moll is looking at the positives, planning for when it can re-open.

“We will put in perspex screens at tills, there will be fewer tills, hand sanitisers, colleagues on the door encouraging people to use them and we are looking at buying masks but without undermining the NHS.

“We are also planning ahead for promotional ideas once up and running. But the big party we were planning for colleagues will have to wait,”

Sadly one of store’s great successes, its restaurants and cafes, probably will have to remain closed for the forseeable future.

“Possibly we could do takeaway coffees. We are looking to Christmas, it’s huge for us so we are looking at ways we can encourage people to safely shop, possible exclusive shopping evenings by invitation only when we could limit numbers, distancing could be guaranteed.

“But in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman is like a tea bag, you only know how strong she is when you put her in hot water. “We are all trying to navigate our way through this but Jarrold’s colleagues are awesome, they have that Blitz spirit, we have positive attitude in buckets in Jarrold, we’ve gone through two world wars and we will prevail.”

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