Business

Leon's and The Brick to close 72 stores and lay off 3,900 workers because of COVID-19

Canadian furniture chain Leon's will temporarily close 72 of its 205 stores across Canada and lay off 3,900 workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furniture chain says it will top up EI payments to all employees who are let go

Leon's will offer an employment insurance top-up and company benefits to all employees who have been laid off during the current crisis. (Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

Canadian furniture chain Leon's will temporarily close 72 of its 205 stores across Canada and lay off 3,900 workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Toronto-based company, which also owns furniture chains The Brick, Appliance Canada and Midnorthern Appliance, said Wednesday the temporary layoffs represent about 50 per cent of its staff.

A Google Street View image of the Leon's furniture store in Bridgewater, N.S., from August 2018. The furniture chain didn't immediately specify where layoffs will occur. (Google Street View)

CBC News has obtained a letter that management at The Brick sent to its employees that suggests the chain's stores are also included in the closures and layoffs.

In a release, the company says it will give laid-off employees a top-up on top of whatever they are entitled to under Employment Insurance and will extend benefits to them.

The letter to employees suggests that both of those offers will only last for two weeks after being laid off.

"We do not take any of the decisions we make lightly, and we are working hard to look after our team members across the country in every location," said the letter from Brick CEO Dave Freeman.

Stores that will remain open will continue to operate on limited hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The chain said all stores are normally fully cleaned on a daily basis anyway, but now the company will be stepping up efforts to "disinfect and sanitize all high traffic and high touch areas, such as door handles, pin pads, countertops, washrooms etc."

The chain's online sales operation and delivery services are functioning normally.

"We will continue to offer essential products online at Leons.ca, and we will continue to safely deliver these items to customers' homes where permitted, president Mike Walsh said in a letter to customers.

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