VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Army & Navy is closing its doors permanently after 101 years in business, due to COVID-19.
Owner Jacqui Cohen confirmed the news in a statement, writing, the entire situation is difficult to comprehend.
“This time last year we were celebrating the centenary of Army & Navy — a company my grandfather started in 1919 — and we were looking forward to the years ahead,” writes Cohen. “Now, we are closing a company that was at the heart of eight communities in western Canada over its 101 years.”
In March, the company was forced to temporarily layoff staff and close all five store locations because of the virus.
“We had hoped to re-open but the economic challenges of COVID-19 have proven insurmountable,” the statement reads.
“The economic impact of this global pandemic is beyond anything we have experienced. I am proud of Army & Navy’s history and our contribution to the Canadian landscape.”
Ryan Bruce speaks for CLAC Local 501, which represents 83 workers at the Vancouver and New Westminster locations.
He says it was already a tough time for Army and Navy employees, who had been temporarily laid off in March.
“So, to get news that the company is declaring bankruptcy on top of not having work for a period of time, is a stressful situation, no doubt, for our members.”
He says for many people, working for the company was more than just a job.
“It’s a tight-knit group and I really feel for them as a community,” he says. “Beyond the work and the paycheque, I think a lot of people did feel a sense of community that they perhaps don’t have in other parts of their life.”
He says the union is working on making sure those losing their jobs are getting a fair severance package, and he notes, the company has been pro-active in those discussions.
Army and Navy opened its first store on Vancouver’s Hastings Street in 1919, eventually growing to include locations in New Westminster, Langley, and in Calgary and Edmonton.