H & J Smith confirms closure following 'very long, difficult decision'

Department store H & J Smith Group has confirmed it is calling time on its long-running business in Invercargill following a "very long and difficult decision".

Its stores in Queenstown and Gore are also on the chopping block. 

H & J Smith Group managing director Jason Smith told AM the decision is a "forward-thinking" one and doesn't believe in three to five years time the business will be sustainable.

"That is really the decision that we've taken, unfortunately, that we have to call time on our business." 

Smith said the issue isn't profitability, but supply chains. He said the business relies "heavily" on supply as an independent department store, but COVID has changed the game.

"Some of the decisions that we used to be working with our suppliers on are no longer being made in New Zealand, they're being made out of the country and that makes it harder."

He said this means three to five years down the track, the business may not have the brands and supply its customers love.

"That's why we realised that we, once you join those two pieces together you realise you've got to make a decision and that's what we've done."

Smith told AM the way consumers are shopping has made it difficult too.

"We don't see the customer shopping the same way they have been for the last 123 years that we've been serving communities."

The decision to shut up shop comes after a month-long consultation period and will affect 220 staff of its flagship Invercargill store, which has been operating since 1900.

The confirmed closure date is November 18. 

Watch the video above for more.