UK video game retailer GAME has furloughed its staff on full pay until the end of April due to the coronavirus outbreak but cannot say for sure if they will have jobs beyond that point.
GAME was forced to close every one of its 247 stores on March 24th when the UK government issued a call to shut all retail shops selling non-essential items. Frasers Group – the name of GAME owner Mike Ashley's retail business – issued an email on March 31st which has been seen by Eurogamer, and notifies furloughed staff that regular pay will continue from 26th March up to 30th April 2020. The level of pay is determined by average monthly income rather than contracted hours.
However, the email also states that pay and jobs cannot be guaranteed after the end of April. After that point, staff who still have jobs within the group will be paid 80 percent of their wage up to a cap of £2500 per month, as per the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which Fraser Group is taking advantage of.
GAME's warehouse in Basingstoke continues to operate to fulfil online orders.
Here are some edited highlights from the email, as posted by Eurogamer:
We are working in unprecedented times. Every day our lives and economy see huge changes. COVID-19 touches every aspect of what we do. All of us are affected, as individuals, businesses and society at large. Our economy is fighting for survival. Retail remains one of the hardest hit sectors. We will continue to do all that we can to ensure that our business remains as strong as possible for the benefit of all of us.
We must make difficult decisions to ensure that as we move out of the current situation our business is in the best place possible. The work that was once there has fallen away; our business, as with so many others, is smaller. We must respond to these circumstances, including the reduction in work.
As you know, in light of the UK Government's latest guidance and most recent stricter curbs on permitted activity, we had no choice but to close all of our stores with immediate effect as at close of trading 23rd March 2020. Because our stores are closed and because your work relates to the trading of our stores, since this date, or shortly after, you have been unable to and have not been working - this is because there has been no work for you.
Across the business, there are many humbling stories of what our people have done to support us, their colleagues and their communities, national and local - for which, thank you.
However, the email adds that "...we and you should plan for the next few months getting harder for our business," and that "...we cannot rule out the possibility of taking such drastic steps; we are in difficult circumstances."
GAME has endured a turbulent history over the past few years, and it will be interesting to see what shape the UK's only specialist video game retailer takes once the coronavirus outbreak is over.