Forty employees at Oshawa Centre’s Forever 21 to be laid off by end of year

The Forever 21 store at the Oshawa Centre is closing by the end of the year. Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

Forty employees at the Oshawa Centre are losing their jobs after American fashion retailer Forever 21 declared it will be closing all stores in Canada.

The Oshawa store just celebrated its third year of operation Sept. 30 right before the employees found out they are being laid off.

“We literally found out after it was being posted on all over social media. As employees, we didn’t know anything,” said one employee, who who has worked at the Oshawa store for two years and asked not to be identified. “It was a shock because no one really expected it.”

The Los-Angeles based company issued an official statement filing for bankruptcy on Sept. 29 saying it wanted to focus on the profitable part of the organization.

Forty-four stores across the country will be shut down at the end of the year, resulting in approximately 2,000 employees losing their jobs. Half of those stores are in Ontario, including Scarborough, Toronto, Newmarket, North York, Etobicoke, Brampton and Mississauga.

Forever 21 is also closing 178 stores in the U.S.

Most of Forever 21’s employees are part-time. About 1,600 of 2,000 Canadian employees are paid hourly and will not be getting any benefits or severance pay.

“I’m not that upset. Life goes on…you know how retail is,” said another Oshawa employee, who also asked not to be named. “Plus, I already have another job.”

Liquidation sales are expected to start in a few weeks with prices being slashed up to 80 per cent.

Forever 21 made its brand on fast fashion (for consumers interested in a regular turnover of their wardrobe) and low prices, according to retail analysts quoted in media reports.

“They have nice stuff, but they have nothing there for me,” said Rachel Andrich, a student at Trent University.

Conversely, some customers will miss Forever 21.

“I’ve been shopping there for years now. Sucks that they’re closing!,” said Sharon Johnson, a student at Humber College.