James Avery Artisan Jewelry, a family-owned jewelry retailer based in Texas, furloughed many of their manufacturing and retail associates and select corporate associates. Additionally, they have reduced pay for all salaried associates including executive and management teams. The announcement came just over two weeks after the temporary closure of James Avery retail stores and manufacturing facilities as part of the company’s COVID-19 public health crisis response.
“As we navigate this ever-evolving situation, James Avery Artisan Jewelry is experiencing many challenges and tough decisions regarding the future of our business,” says 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.”
After announcing the temporary closure of retail stores and most manufacturing facilities March 17, James Avery also put work-from-home and social distancing measures in place in their corporate offices and facilities. Since then, all associates assigned to closed facilities were paid as scheduled.
However, with the March 31 enactment of Texas Executive Order GA-14, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered an end to non-essential business activities statewide through April 30. This includes nearly all James Avery retail stores. McCullough says that the company hoped to open some stores earlier but understands the importance of prolonging the closure to protect communities and associates.
The furlough came into effect Saturday, April 4. All furloughed associates received health and basic life benefits through the duration of the furlough at no cost to the associate, access to the Employee Assistance Program and accrued sick and personal paid time off that can be used as needed if they are called back to work. Furloughed associates may be able to take up to 40 hours of personal paid time off. Additionally, the company is offering associates expanded access to their 401K savings. All furloughed associates are eligible to receive full unemployment benefits. To ease their transition, the company has started unemployment claims on associates’ behalf.
Chairman of the Board and former James Avery CEO, Chris Avery says that “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.” He continues with a message for furloughed associates, “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.”
Any corporate associates who have not been furloughed are working from home when possible, and all others are practicing social distancing. The company 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.
“We remain optimistic that this is a temporary situation and are hopeful to resume operations in the months ahead,” said McCullough. “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.”