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70 jobs lost as JK clothing stores close

CECILE MEIER
Last updated 08:40 26/11/2013

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Mums and dads are disappointed after Christchurch-based children's clothing retailer JK Kids announced it was winding down the nationwide business of 25 shops.

The company announced its decision, which will see 125 staff lose their jobs, on its Facebook page yesterday morning.

"We have made the decision to wind down our JK Kids business. We truly thank you for your support over our 18 years in New Zealand," it said.

Owner Ben Sproat said a decline in sales had forced the company to make the difficult decision.

The company had loyal customers, but it was becoming very difficult for children's clothing retailers to operate in New Zealand with competition coming from overseas online retailers, he said.

GST-free and freight-free clothes from Europe and the United States were being sold at their end-of-season sales just when the season for retailers in New Zealand had started.

Sproat said he was sorry for his loyal customer base and staff.

"It's a shame. No-one wants to make people unemployed, but we've been forced to make a decision."

Customers showed their disappointment at the news on the company's Facebook page.

Jody Keehan, of Christchurch, wrote: "Very sad to lose such a wonderful Kiwi business. Kia kaha!"

Glenda Kingston, of Lincoln, was also disappointed: "Totally gutted! JK Kids has been my number one choice for kids clothes shopping for the last 10 years!!!!"

Rachel Louise Bennett, of Hamilton, agreed: "So sad you are closing down. Love your clothing. Great quality and love your styles. Especially the Merino. The staff in Hamilton are so friendly and helpful."

A JK Kids store manager, who asked not to be named, said it was sad news for people who would lose their jobs.

She had been told a few days ago that her shop would close by the end of December.

"Everyone is disappointed, and now we have to look for a new job."

The company employs a total of 125 staff - the equivalent of 70 full-time employees - who will all be made redundant on December 31.

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