After a day of silence on Wednesday, The Warehouse has finally issued a statement, saying it made in "good faith" its statement earlier this week that it was an essential service and would be remaining open during the lockdown.
The company now says it is cancelling the previously announced 10c a share interim dividend (due to be paid next month) and has withdrawn profit guidance for the year. The share price swiftly fell 37c (over 18%) to $1.65.
The statement on Tuesday by The Warehouse that the 'Red Sheds' would remain open after the Thursday start of the lockdown to provide 'essentials' for New Zealanders caused the company's share price to rocket, up a staggering 52 cents to $2.02.
The news that The Warehouse would be still open while other similar stores would be forced to close was quickly big news in the community and lit up social media with a variety of comments - not all positive by any means.
Later on Tuesday The Warehouse put its shares in trading halt as it said it sought further clarification from the Government on the situation.
The shares remained in a halt on Wednesday, with no statement forthcoming from the company - although it did (see illustration) post on its website that it would in fact be closing the Red Sheds.
The company's group chief executive Nick Grayston said the company had earlier been in contact with Government "for some time" and when on Tuesday morning it confirmed that the Red Sheds would be open "we did so in good faith on the basis of the information we had been given from credible sources, and our strong belief, supported by legal advice, that Red Sheds met the criteria of being an essential service, based on the Government definition of 'any entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people'.
"With the information we had to hand we understood that our significant grocery, toiletries, cleaning, warmth essentials for winter needs and our national coverage meant that we were expected to trade. In addition, at the time of the announcement we were working with our 12,000 team members and suppliers, who were understandably very keen to receive definitive answers around our status as a business.
“On Tuesday further conversations with various Government representatives were undertaken and we established that further clarity was needed and a trading halt was put in place as we sought more information. Later into the evening on Tuesday and well after the trading halt announcement, we heard for the first time the Government’s direction that the Red Sheds should be closed,” Grayston said.
Grayston said he "completely supports" the need to do everything possible to keep all New Zealanders safe.
"With 12,000 employees at home, our attention will now turn to supporting them in a range of ways and we will focus on that in the coming days.”
Following the release of Grayston's statement The Warehouse shares were brought out of trading halt.