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School Uniform Shop To Close Blaming New Gov Rules

A Jersey school uniform shop is closing, blaming the government's new policy to limit the number of branded items.

In a notice to customers, JSSK says it will shut in May after 14 years of trading.

Owners Paula and Chris Shield say they have worked 'tirelessly' to find a way of keeping the business running, but that it won't be viable without significant price rises.

They say the government's new policy - making it compulsory for its schools to have a maximum of five branded or bespoke items of uniform from September 2026  - will destroy their business and reduce turnover by a fifth.

They say the Education Minister's 'unnecessary interference' has caused 'no end of personal anguish, stress and heartache' and they doubt it will reduce costs for parents.

"We strongly believe that the Minister and the Department have poorly managed this process from the outset, with little effort being made to work with us.

Whilst we acknowledge that parents may struggle with the costs of starting a new school, other initiatives should have been explored, for example, removal of GST from school uniform, a grant for parents of new Year 7 pupils or even nationalising school uniform as a not-for-profit venture.

There is financial support already in place for families that are struggling and access to a valued pre-loved uniform provided by all schools.

We feel that the introduction of the Policy fails to deliver a significant saving for families that warrants the closure of a local service providing business."

Read JSSK's full statement.

Speaking to Channel 103, Chris Shield said they had tried numerous times to raise concerns with the government.

" It has been incredibly stressful.  Paula has grown it from a tiny operation with six schools to what it is today - providing quality uniforms to 26 schools.  She worked really hard with all of the headteachers to make sure the children were getting the best possible products.

When you have almost your baby ripped away from you, for a change that was unnecessary... I think we will find as we get down the road that it hasn't made much of a difference, except making it more stressful (for parents) to be able to find where they can buy uniform from.

And we are upset for our staff who are all going to be losing their jobs in May."

JSSK employs five people, rising to 13 in the summer holidays.

JSSK is to start running down its stock, and aims to offer a prepaid order service until late April, with items distributed via schools in June.

The policy of a maximum of five bespoke or branded items (including PE kits) was announced in December in an attempt to bring curb the expense of kitting a child out for school.

Speaking at the time, Education Minister Deputy Inna Gardiner said she hoped the change would address parents' concerns:

"Public concern over the cost of uniforms is also echoed by children, and every small saving we can make matters while we are in a cost-of-living crisis.

The new policy followed a review by the competition watchdog, the JCRA, that found some schools had up to 40% branded uniform.

It will not apply to private and fee-paying schools.

Les Quennevais School, whose uniform is stocked at JSSK, notified parents of the change with a social media post:

"We are extremely sorry to lose the great personal service that this fantastic local business provides to our families and to our school. Thank you Paula and your team for all your great service over the years, you will be greatly missed."

Reaction to news of the closure on JSSK's social media page includes:

"I'm really sorry to hear this. You run a great shop with very helpful staff. I've always found your prices reasonable. Schools and parents are definitely going to miss you."

"Ridiculous decision by the government, but once again are we surprised? JSSK was a great shop. Great service. Always helpful. Convenient, easy to park etc. forced out by a ‘knee jerk’ reaction from those in power who are so out of touch with those who they are meant to serve. How many people actually weren’t happy with the current situation compared to all those who didn’t complain?"

"Wow Paula, we have come to rely on your dedication, commitment and personal connection with your customers 💜 you will be so missed xx"

Education Minister Deputy Inna Gardiner told Channel 103 she was unable to respond directly to the criticism of the policy because the government is in a transitional period until a new Council of Ministers takes office.

A Government spokesperson said:

"We are aware of JSSK notifying its customers of closure.

Affected schools will seek alternative supplier(s) and will be in direct contact with parents.

Changes to the Government’s policy concerning school uniforms will only come into effect in more than 2 and a half years’ time."

 

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