Wal-Mart Stores is once again thinning its corporate workforce as well as making changes to store hierarchy, with some of the co-manager positions being eliminated in certain stores. A source close to the situation said about 500 jobs were being cut at the corporate office.
Wal-Mart would not confirm the reports of 3,500 co-managers being eliminated, but the company did say a reduction in co-manager positions per store based on sales revenue is under review. The co-managers are being evaluated and those ready to move into a store manager role will be given that opportunity sooner under the new structure. The company is also planning to increase the number of assistant managers and did confirm 1,700 new positions in that role are being added.
Officials with the Bentonville-based retailer on Wednesday (Jan. 24) issued the following statement regarding the store management changes: “Retail is changing rapidly and we are transforming to meet the needs of our customers. We have a growing emphasis on serving customers seamlessly however they want to shop: in stores, online, on their mobile device — through pickup or delivery. To help compete and win in this environment, we must make changes across our company to enable further investments in our strategic business priorities and growth.”
Three years ago Wal-Mart returned department managers to the stores saying it had cut back too far, which was hurting store performance. The retailer continues to tout the importance of department managers and assistant managers, but the salaried position of co-manager is being cut along with the number of cashiers in stores as Wal-Mart installs more Scan & Go and self-check stations across its U.S. fleet of stores.
Wal-Mart also is shuttering two of its Regional Operation Centers in an effort to streamline as well as maximize efficiency. Two centers in South Carolina and Utah will close this summer with operations consolidating to the remaining ROC locations in Grove, City, Ohio, and Bentonville. About 125 logistics employees work at the centers in South Carolina and Utah.
“We will work with each associate to identify opportunities within the company, and we are hopeful that any associate who wants to continue their career with us can transfer to another position,” said Delia Garcia, corporate spokeswoman for Wal-Mart. “We are in a transformational period in retail and Walmart is transforming too.”
Also this week, Wal-Mart said it will shutter its receivables center for health and wellness located in Derby, Kan., a suburb of Wichita. About 104 jobs will be lost in that closure.
“After careful review, we made the difficult decision as part of the company’s ongoing work to best align resources with our long-term plans to close the center in Derby. We care about the associates who will be impacted and will be supporting them through this process. We intend to officially close the Derby facility in August 2018. By giving our associates over six months’ notice our hope is that will find their next career opportunity – either with the company or another company in Kansas. During this time, we will provide incentives for associates to stay with the company to transition the work, while also providing them with resources to find their next role – either with the company or in Kansas,” Garcia said.
Wal-Mart’s support includes access to outplacement services, resume and interviewing skills training, and counseling through an employee assistance program.
The corporate layoffs previously reported are expected to run through the company’s fiscal year-end of Jan. 31, with the majority of the displaced employees to be informed Thursday (Jan. 25), according to local sources familiar with the matter who requested anonymity.
Social media feeds indicate a number of employees were handed pink slips on Wednesday indicating they will remain on the payroll for 60 days and can apply for other jobs in the company. Severance is provided at the end of the 60-days if a job is not secured. Severance is comensurate with years of employment. Those impacted said they will get their annual bonus pay.
Jobs are at risk in real estate and store planning and layout, store design and construction design. Senior directors in those areas have been told to expect cutbacks. The merchandising and Information Systems Divisions are also reporting layoffs which began on Wednesday. There are changes also being made in the jewelry division which resulted in a few layoffs also reported Wednesday.
Wal-Mart did not confirm these layoffs are happening, nor say if they are expected to occur. The retailer’s statement regarding corporate downsizing has not changed over the past year.
“As we’ve previously stated, we’ve been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively. Those efforts continue,” corporate spokesman Randy Hargrove told Talk Business & Politics on Wednesday.
When Wal-Mart cuts corporate jobs the rumors spread quickly given the retailer employs between 15,000 and 17,000 or in its back office/home office operations.
Cameron Smith, owner of Rogers-based executive placement firm Cameron Smith & Associates, helping laid off Wal-Mart execs sometimes requires an extra step.
“Walmart engages an out of state outplacement firm, so everyone who has been displaced will have the opportunity to get help with resumes and career counseling. The problem is, that firm does not know Northwest Arkansas or this job market. Almost every displaced associate that comes to us, we have to redo their resumes to fit this market and counsel them on how their experience will transfer to other local companies,” said Cameron Smith & Associates.
He said suppliers here are bracing for the layoffs just like everyone else.
“Suppliers and recruitment firms like ours receive a slew of calls and emailed resumes leading up to a layoff. When these large-scale layoffs take place, they outpace the number of supplier job openings in this market,” Smith said.
As of Wednesday, Smith’s company is recruiting for 63 jobs in the supplier sector. He said that number is down from a normal daily average of 100 and 115. Smith said there are approximately 10,000 direct and indirect Wal-Mart vendor jobs in Northwest Arkansas.