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James Avery Furloughs 2,000+ Employees Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

The total includes retail, manufacturing and headquarters staff.

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KERRVILLE, TX — James Avery Artisan Jewelry, which operates 90 stores in four states, announced that it is furloughing many of its employees.

The action came just over two weeks after the temporary closure of James Avery stores and manufacturing facilities as part of the company’s COVID-19 response. The furloughs, which began April 4, include retail and manufacturing workers along with some corporate staff, according to a press release from the company. About 2,100 jobs are affected, amounting to 75 percent of James Avery’s workforce, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

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The company also has reduced pay for all salaried associates, including executive and management teams, according to the release.

“As we navigate this ever-evolving situation, James Avery Artisan Jewelry is experiencing many challenges and tough decisions regarding the future of our business,” said James Avery CEO John McCullough. “In spite of this, we strive to make business decisions affecting our associates, customers and communities carefully and diligently. The furloughs have been the hardest decision our team has made because it affects so many people we care about very much.”

In the release, the company stated that it “hopes to resume full operations as soon as it is safe for associates to return to work and as local stay-at-home and executive orders are lifted.”

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“We remain optimistic that this is a temporary situation and are hopeful to resume operations in the months ahead,” McCullough said. “For the past 65 years, we have been blessed with amazing team members, a strong brand and supportive customers. Together, we will weather these challenging times.”

After announcing the temporary closure of retail stores and most manufacturing facilities March 17James Avery also put work-from-home and social distancing measures in place in its corporate offices and facilities. Since then, all associates assigned to closed facilities were paid as scheduled, according to the release.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently ordered an end to non-essential business activities statewide through April 30. That includes nearly all James Avery retail stores. McCullough said the company hoped to open some stores earlier but understands the importance of prolonging the closure.

Furloughed associates will receive health and basic life benefits at no cost. They can also receive full unemployment benefits. To ease the transition, the company has started unemployment claims on associates’ behalf, according to the release.

“Things will be tough for a while — there is no getting around this fact — but I have great faith, hope and optimism for the future of this company,” said Chris Avery, board chairman and former CEO.

He continued with a message for furloughed employees: “Throughout my years with the company I have looked upon you as part of our family – I have known so many of you as friends and many of you have touched my heart. I hope soon you will get the call to come back to work, open stores, welcome customers and once again produce the fine quality jewelry you all are known for.”

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Apart from James Avery stores, the company’s jewelry is available in more than 220 Dillard’s stores in Texas and 28 additional states, as well as in airport stores in Austin and Houston, Army and Air Force Exchange Service locations at Fort Hood and Fort Belvoir and nationally through JamesAvery.com. The company makes jewelry in Texas workshops in ComfortFredericksburgHondo and Kerrville.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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