RETAIL workers have been left in limbo with fashion retailer Mosaic Brands set to close up to 500 stores after it was "utterly derailed" by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mosaic operates brands including: Katies, Rockmans, Millers, Noni B, Rivers, Autograph, Crossroads, W.Lane and beme.
The retailer announced its end of financial year results on Tuesday with Mosaic chief executive officer Scott Evans telling shareholders the company had been left ravaged.
"The forecast was utterly derailed, first by the devastating bushfires which directly impacted 20 per cent of our store portfolio over the Christmas period, then by COVID-19 which saw us close all 1333 stores for 9.5 weeks including the peak Mother's Day trading period," he said.
"The retail rental market in Australia is not paused because of the pandemic, it is fundamentally changed for the future.
"There is no road map to navigate these circumstances, but our operational priorities have been ensuring team and customer safety, reducing inventory and maintaining a strong cash position."
Results included underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) loss of $45.8 million, which included a provision of $49 million for unpaid rent.
Online sales grew by just 14.7 per cent year-on-year.
The announcement to shareholders said Mosaic would shut between 300 to 500 stores within the next 12 to 24 months.Currently around 41 per cent of store leases are on holdover or expiring by this December, with 87 per cent due to expire within two years.
Mosaic has 6000 employees across Australia and Mr Evans said exact locations of store closures and numbers are to be determined.