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Rivers chain cuts Vic jobs, shuts sites

Rivers clothing chain has cut 130 jobs and shut down its warehouses in regional Victoria weeks after its owner flagged a turnaround for the struggling retailer.

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Rivers management on Thursday informed 90 full-time staff and 40 casual staff that production at its three Ballarat sites would shut down.

Its warehouses on Hill Street, Yarrowee Street and Pickers Street will cease operations in the next few months, he said.

“That’s where the job losses are centred,” Rivers spokesman Steve Murphy told AAP.

The move comes two years after the brand was sold to Specialty Fashion Group, owner of Katies and Millers, for just $5 million.

In August, Specialty reported it had suffered a $4.5 million full-year loss.

The group took a $21.6 million loss from Rivers and almost halved its full year earnings, dragged down by aggressive discounting from Rivers as it cleared the way for new products.

But the worst of Rivers’ woes was behind it, CEO Gary Perlstein said in August.

On Thursday Mr Perlstein said shutting down warehouse operations in Ballarat is part of Rivers’ turnaround.

“The turnaround of Rivers is a priority that requires some tough decisions about how we do business in the future,” the CEO said in a statement.

Sydney is the group’s preferred location, Mr Perlstein says.

State shadow treasurer Michael O’Brien says the losses show the Victorian government isn’t doing enough on the jobs front.

“Terrible news today at Rivers in Ballarat,” Mr O’Brien told reporters in Melbourne.

“This is happening right across the state – Daniel Andrews doesn’t have a plan to create jobs, all he has is a plan to create new public holidays and put new taxes on businesses.”

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