Employees at the James Avery facility in Kerrville are among those being furloughed, according to an announcement by the company on Thursday.

James Avery Artisan Jewelry, which has workshops in Kerrville, Comfort, Fredericksburg and Hondo, had announced on March 17 that it would temporarily close retail stores and most manufacturing facilities. The company, at that time, also implemented work-from-home and social-distancing measures in place in corporate offices and facilities. Since then, all associates assigned to closed facilities were paid as scheduled, the company said in a press release issued Thursday.

But with the governor’s March 31 order ordering the closure of businesses deemed nonessential until April 30, nearly all James Avery retail stores must be closed until that time, states a company press release issued Thursday. Although the company had hoped to reopen facilities before that time, it “understands the importance of prolonging the closure to protect communities and associates,” the release states.

“As we navigate this ever-evolving situation, James Avery Artisan Jewelry is experiencing many

challenges and tough decisions regarding the future of our business,” said James Avery CEO John McCullough in the release. “In spite of this, we strive to make business decisions affecting our associates, customers and communities carefully and diligently. The furloughs have been the hardest decision our team has made because it affects so many people we care about very much.”

The furlough will begin Saturday. All furloughed associates will receive health and basic life benefits through the duration of the furlough at no cost to the associate, access to the Employee Assistance Program and accrue sick and personal paid time off that can be used as needed if they are called back to work, states the release. Furloughed associates may be able to take up to 40 hours of personal paid time off. Additionally, the company is offering associates expanded access to their 401K savings. All furloughed associates are eligible to receive full unemployment benefits. To ease their transition, the company started unemployment claims on associates’ behalf, states the release.

“Things will be tough for a while -- there is no getting around this fact -- but I have great faith, hope and optimism for the future of this company,” said Chris Avery, board chairman and former CEO, in the press release. 

Furloughed employees include many manufacturing and retail associates, as well as select corporate associates. The company also announced it had reduced pay for all salaried associates including executive and management teams. 

To company employees, said Avery: “Throughout my years with the company I have looked upon you as part of our family – I have known so many of you as friends and many of you have touched my heart. I hope soon you will get the call to come back to work, open stores, welcome customers and once again produce the fine quality jewelry you all are known for.”

The company described itself as a multi-channel retailer with 90 James Avery stores in four states, with jewelry also available in more than 220 Dillard’s stores in Texas and 28 additional states, airport stores in Austin and Houston, Army and Air Force Exchange Service locations at Fort Hood and Fort Belvoir and nationwide through JamesAvery.com.

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