Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should "stick to her knitting" instead of criticising struggling businesses, National Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith has reportedly said.
Ardern told RNZ's Morning Report on Tuesday morning that she was "angry" following The Warehouse Group's announcement that more than 1000 jobs could go across the company. Six stores across the country are proposed to close.
"At the moment I'm getting hundreds of letters from small-business owners who are giving up everything to try and keep their staff on," she said.
"They are running down whatever reserves they had. They're prioritising trying to keep their business afloat but also trying to keep their people on because that's what they've prioritised. The Government of course and taxpayers are taking a huge hit because we are prioritising trying to keep as many businesses and individuals employed and up and running as we can.
"I'd like to see the same attitude applied by some of our large organisations in New Zealand."
According to NZME, Goldsmith said: "I don't think it's helpful for the Prime Minister to be criticising struggling businesses, she should stick to her knitting". NZME reported that Goldsmith said the knitting reference was a metaphor.
He wanted her to be "better focused" on the Government's plan to grow the economy.
In an NZX statement on Monday, The Warehouse Group chief executive Nick Grayston said it was moving to a new operating model at its head office.
"COVID-19 related events of recent months have made it even more clear that the [Agile operating model] is the right model for the Group and that there is an intention to move to this new way of working from August 31, 2020," the statement said.
Based on COVID-19 impacts, "we are accelerating some changes that had already been planned", while plans at stores were also accelerated.
The retail stores earmarked for closure are The Warehouse in Whangaparaoa, Johnsonville and Dunedin central, and Warehouse Stationery Te Awamutu. The Noel Leeming Clearance Centre in Henderson and the Noel Leeming store in Tokoroa are also to close.