St John Commercial Services in Guernsey regrets to announce the forthcoming closure of its Healthcare Shop in the Rohais on a permanent basis. The decision has been made due to the unprecedented challenging economic climate in the retail sector, the associated cost of living crisis and a combination of unavoidable factors.
The shop will remain open for business until a closing date is announcedSt John is now focusing on supporting the Healthcare shop staff and customers affected by the announcement.
The Healthcare Shop and St John Training Services are a separate entity to the St John Ambulance Guernsey charity and the St John Ambulance & Rescue Service, so the activities of the charity and the operations of the Emergency Ambulance Service will be unaffected by the closure of the Healthcare Shop. St John Training Services will continue to operate, delivering first aid training to local businesses and the community.
Historically, the Healthcare Shop has existed to supply on-island consumers and businesses with healthcare products, with any net cash generated being donated to support the wider charitable endeavours of St John charities in Guernsey.
The Healthcare Shop has been managed with oversight by the St John Commercial Services Ltd. board of directors. The board has considered a range of strategic options to ensure the ongoing viability of the company, but despite the best efforts of committed managers and their team, this has not proved feasible at acceptable levels of risk.
Chairman of the board of St John Commercial Services, Ben Le Huray, explained: “It is with sadness and regret that we have had to make this very difficult decision. This has been a terrible, soul-searching process for all involved. We have explored numerous options to maintain the Healthcare Shop in its current form, but unfortunately we could not arrive at a sustainable solution. Numerous factors have compounded the scale of the Healthcare Shop’s challenges, including Covid and post-Brexit related trading interruptions, a worsening general retail environment as Europe enters a recessionary era, the cost of living crisis, as experienced by other retailers and service sectors, topped off by a devastating flood in the shop earlier this year.
“Our thoughts are with the Healthcare staff who are a truly dedicated and hardworking team. We will be providing them with ongoing support at this uncertain and difficult time. We are also working through the implications for customers and suppliers in as constructive and supportive a manner as possible, in order to minimise the impact of this decision.”
John Hollis, Knight Commander and chairman of the Commandery of St John in Guernsey said: “This is a terribly sad but unavoidable decision which the SJCS board concluded they had to take, at a horrible time for all affected, especially after all the efforts by many to pursue alternative ways forward. However, in the current very difficult economic and funding environment, they appeared to have been faced with the same inescapable logic as many other small-scale organisations.”
Mr Hollis also provided confirmation that the difficult decisions taken by the board of St John Commercial Services about the Healthcare Shop would have no impact on the operations of the separately constituted St John Ambulance and Rescue Service (SJARS) and the provision of emergency ambulance services to the community.
“The emergency ambulance service is an entirely separate entity, with its own board of directors, segregated funding and staffing arrangements. Due to the caring, professional diligence of a superb frontline team, SJARS has continued to perform in Guernsey with good response times and a high standard of care for islanders at their time of greatest need.
Mr Hollis concluded that, “We are living in very difficult economic and social times, perhaps the worst for at least a generation. Like other organisations, a St John board of directors may therefore sometimes be forced to take decisions with very difficult implications. St John personnel invariably try to do their utmost to provide services to the community that can be funded, in line with their “Caring for Life” ethos. The St John entities therefore welcome all those in our community who can assist in an appropriate professional, voluntary or charitable funding basis.”