Walmart to reduce pharmacy staff by 3%

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 3,274 views 

Walmart continues to scale back its payroll with another round of layoffs. This time the axe fell on the retail giant’s health and wellness division. Walmart spokeswoman Marilee McInnis told Talk Business & Politics the cutback involves roughly 3% of those employed in pharmacy and related positions.

“We are on a transformational journey on how we operate our pharmacies and serve our customers, investing in key growth areas to develop our business and associates. We are aligning our staffing with the demands of the business to consistently serve our customers now and in the future,” McInnis said.

She said Walmart is working with the impacted employees to find open positions within the company. The layoffs began last week and social media feeds also indicate many of the positions are within store pharmacies ranging from pharmacists, pharmacy managers and hourly techs and floating cashiers. Walmart declined to say if any of the positions being eliminated are in back-office roles that support the pharmacy business.

Becker’s Hospital Review estimates Walmart employs more than 10,500 pharmacists and is the third largest retail pharmacy chain behind CVS Health with a 23.8% share of the drug market. Walgreens Boots Alliance is the second largest with 15.6% market share with Walmart coming in third at 5% of the share as of August 2018, according to the Discount Drug Network.

Last month, Walmart told the media it was revamping some of its pharmacy operations to increase efficiency for customers. The retailer teased about a pickup kiosk that will dispense prescriptions after hours. That is not yet functional with a pilot planned for one store in Rogers. Walmart has made changes to the pharmacy over recent months and as store remodels take place, the pharmacy also gets a makeover. There is a larger waiting area with seating and the windows for customers are dual purposed allowing for prescription pick-up and drop-off. Walmart is also offering more vaccines and there is typically a separate room for that in the pharmacy area if store space allows.

Paring down of this company segment has been a year in the making after Sean Slovenski, took over as senior vice president of Walmart health & wellness in July 2018. He came to Walmart from Humana and reports directly to Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S. Foran said of Slovenski, “he is a proven leader and entrepreneur with an established track record in defining and building businesses within the healthcare industry.” Foran tasked Slovenski to implement a plan to put more focus on health and wellness and also make health care more affordable and accessible for Walmart customers.

The last time Walmart disclosed its U.S. health and wellness sales was at the end of fiscal 2018. At that time, health and wellness accounted for 11% of sales which equaled $35.035 billion, according to corporate year-end filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This move to reduce pharmacy staffs comes on the heels of Walmart’s announcement to layoff 569 workers in the retailer’s accounting finance unit located in North Carolina effective Sept. 13. This particular layoff was related to Walmart’s outsourcing its accounting and finance jobs to GenPact.

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