Pureplay luxury fashion brand Net-A-Porter confirmed it will close its UK distribution centre in the next few days, while Asos lashed out at union claims it is ‘playing Russian Roulette’ with warehouse workers’ lives.

In a statement sent to Retail Week, Net-a-Porter (NAP) said it had made the decision to temporarily close its only UK distribution centre in Charlton, south London, in the next few days to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff.

A spokeswoman for NAP said: “The health and wellbeing of our colleagues and community are our first priority. We will be temporarily closing our London warehouse in line with similar temporary closures we have made in Europe and the USA, until further notice.”

The decision comes after NAP was accused today by workers’ union GMB of “putting fashion before lives” by refusing to close.

A source close to the retailer said it was in discussion with staff about remuneration for the period while the warehouse remains shut.

NAP’s decision stands in stark contrast to the response of Asos, which said it would continue to operate and was following government guidelines on distancing protocols for staff.

Asos was also accused this morning of failing to protect the health and safety of warehouse workers by GMB, a charge it strenuously denied.

A spokesman for Asos said: “We totally refute the allegations made by the GMB this morning. They are false, do nothing more than serve to create panic and hysteria in an already uncertain time, and are part of a continuing campaign against us and the recognised union on site, community.

“It is simply not true to say we don’t have social distancing protocols in place and it is not true to say that we have thousands of employees working under one roof. The reality is we typically have around 500 colleagues working in our 680,000 sq ft facility at any one time and we have strict social distancing protocols in place but, it must be said, it is also our colleagues’ responsibility to adhere to them.

“As directed by the government, we, along with other online retailers, are ensuring we are striking the right balance between keeping our warehouse operational, for the good of our employees and the wider economy, and maintaining the health and safety of staff, which is always our number one priority.”

GMB had accused the pureplay of “playing Russian Roulette” with its employees lives as it “refuse[d] to enforce social distancing in packed warehouses amid the coronavirus crisis”.