NEXT saw its shares lift as it re-opened its online business after putting in place “very extensive additional safety measures” and consulting trade union USDAW.

The high street retailer had temporarily closed its online business, along with its warehousing and distribution operations, three weeks ago after staff expressed fears over coronavirus.

It returned to selling clothes online on Tuesday after the retailer put extra safety measures in place to ensure warehouse staff can work safely, it said.

However, by 9am the website had closed again, saying it had already received all the orders it could process for the day, but it would return on Wednesday.

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The retail giant closed its online operations in late March amid the coronavirus crisis, following criticism from staff who felt unsafe at work.

Behind the scenes, executives have been upgrading warehouse space and limiting workers to accommodate the Government’s distancing measures.

A statement posted on the Next website said warehouse managers had “successfully tested opening and taking a limited number of orders today”.

The mid-morning message was that website had stopped taking orders, with the firm saying: “No more orders today, we’re open again tomorrow.

“We have successfully tested opening and taking a limited number of orders today. Please come back again tomorrow morning.”

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The group has started selling childrenswear and some small home items, with more ranges planned at a later date, in a move which prompted shares to rise more than two per cent on the FTSE 100 index, to 4,742p.

Next said the online service will operate with staff who are “willing and able to safely return to work”, with a small number in each warehouse at any one time.

Only a limited number of orders will be allowed, with the group pausing orders if it needs to and converting the website to “browse only” until the following morning to keep staff and item pickers safe.

The company said in statement to the London Stock Exchange: “Next has implemented very extensive additional safety measures and having consulted with colleagues and our recognised union, USDAW, it will re-open online in a very limited way.”

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