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NZ crackdown forces closure of Wesfarmers' Kmart stores

The shutdown of the Wesfarmers department store chain has left about 2300 New Zealanders out of work.

The conglomerate's industrial businesses also remain unaffected.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has foreshadowed tougher measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and encourage Australians to remain at home wherever possible, including avoiding unnecessary visits to shops.

Wesfarmers said the New Zealand decision to allow Bunnings to remain open to trade customers reflected the "essential nature of its products".

Bunnings, Officeworks and Kmart customers in Australia have been spending on setting up home offices, hygiene goods and home improvement products in the face of COVID-19.

Wesfarmers does not have significant operations in New Zealand outside of its Bunnings, Kmart and industrial and safety businesses.

Revenue from its New Zealand operations represented about 8 per cent of the group’s total annual revenue of $27.92 billion last year. And revenue from Kmart New Zealand was less than 3 per cent of total revenue.

Rob Scott-led Wesfarmers said it would try to support workers through the New Zealand shutdowns and continued to work with authorities on strategies to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infections.

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Wesfarmers said on March 20 that it was unable to provide an estimate of the impact of COVID-19 on its full-year financial results because the situation was just too uncertain.

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