Penneys will not reopen on Monday despite expected changes to lockdown rules

Retailer said it would not trade until it was safe for staff and customers to do so

Penneys has confirmed that it will not be reopening its 37 Irish stores next week, despite an expected move by the Government to accelerate the easing of restrictions to allow larger retailers trade from Monday.

The discount retailer is reopening its stores in the UK on June 15th. It had been working towards an Irish reopening of June 29th, but the retailer will not now be ready in time to meet the expected earlier opening date next week.

"We are still working through our plans for re-opening in Ireland and can confirm that we have not announced an official re-opening date for Penneys in Ireland," it said. The company said it would treat any Government-sanctioned date for larger retailers to reopen as "the minimum standard" and it would not trade until it was safe for staff and customers. It is believed that one of the biggest concerns for major retailers such as Penneys is how to manage socially-distanced customer queues outside their stores upon reopening.

It is understood that retail industry representatives implored the Government to accelerate the retail reopening on a conference call on Tuesday with Heather Humphreys, the Minister for Business. They were told the matter was being considered. Formal notification of the proposed acceleration had not yet been conveyed to the retail sector on Thursday evening, but Retail Ireland, a division of Ibec, welcomed reports that reopening is to be speeded up.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times