Walmart U.S. eliminating corporate jobs in Northwest Arkansas, West Coast

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 23,667 views 

Walmart is restructuring its U.S. business and hundreds of employees are being laid off, according to sources. The downsizing, according to sources familiar with the company, is part of Walmart’s ongoing efforts to streamline its business and move toward a retail model that includes many ways to reach consumers.

The company scaled up its e-commerce division in the past few years under Marc Lore, Walmart U.S. eCommerce CEO. But heavy losses in the segment and the renewed effort to streamline the business have prompted heavy job cuts with dozens of category specialists and analysts let go this week.

The layoffs don’t stop there. Talk Business & Politics has learned dozens of employees in the areas of fresh produce and meat supply chain, real estate, logistics and transportation, global people, human resources and customer experience teams were also impacted from the ongoing layoffs which began Monday (July 27). Walmart has not provided a job cut total but sources tell Talk Business & Politics it is several hundred jobs in Northwest Arkansas and in West Coast offices.

L Brands recently announced 850 corporate job cuts and Macy’s laid off 3,900 in recent weeks. Fossil said in June it was cutting 10% of its corporate workforce. Unlike these retailers, Walmart does not give exact numbers with corporate restructuring efforts.

“We are continuing on our journey to create an omni-channel organization within our Walmart U.S. business and we’re making some additional changes this week. Our customers want to have a seamless experience whether they’re shopping in our stores, using our app or shopping online at walmart.com. Our goal is to deliver that experience while increasing innovation, speed and productivity. We will share additional information after we’ve completed our communication with associates,” Walmart spokeswoman Jami Lamontagne told Talk Business & Politics on Thursday.

Walmart has been quiet about layoffs for most of 2020, but new management at Walmart U.S. did restructure earlier this year. In February, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner restructured central operations with the departure of Mark Ibbotson. Also in February, Furner announced creation of a new product team to be led by Meng Chee. The department was to design technology products and customer and employee experiences with the end-user in mind. The Product.org division was also involved in the recent layoffs, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Walmart’s real estate division was hit hard with 250 layoffs that began July 29. This comes as the retail giant no longer builds as many stores. Between April 2019 and January 2020 Walmart added just three U.S. stores. Walmart now operates 4,756 U.S. stores.

There is also restructuring in the merchandising operations department. Several dozen workers in Walmart’s logistics transportation divisions were also let go this week, according to sources.

Walmart confirmed everyone who lost their jobs would remain on the payroll until Jan. 31, and will still be eligible for bonus pay through that period.

Cameron Smith, founder of CSA Recruiters, told Talk Business & Politics the local job market can absorb some of the jobs lost. On average his office has between 70 and 80 jobs open in Northwest Arkansas at suppliers and third-party service providers to Walmart. There are now 54 open positions in the region, he said.

HOME OFFICE RETURN TO WORK
Walmart also said the company continues to evaluate the COVID-19 situation for its plan and the time for employees returning to the home office.

Donna Morris, chief people officer at Walmart, said the offices in Northwest Arkansas are being set up for 6-foot social distancing so that up to 50% of employees can return when the time is right. She said more than 7,000 home office employees used the scheduling app tool to pick up personal items from the home office while the work stations were being spaced out.

Morris said last week the majority of employees should continue to work from home given the
prevalence of COVID-19.

“We know ideally you’d appreciate a specific return to office date, but at the moment we do not have an exact date for any of our office locations. As we’ve said before, when we are ready to welcome more associates into the offices, it won’t be everyone at once. We’ll provide you with ample notice, and we’ll continue to be flexible with you during the transition,” Morris noted in the internal memo.

Morris said she would provide another update in August.

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