Half of the 1,000 corporate job cuts Walmart has earmarked for this year and next are already taking place, Bloomberg reports, with 500 or so coming before the retailer's fiscal year ends Jan. 31 and another 500 next year. The cuts, in the company's human resources, real estate, logistics, marketing, merchandising, finance and global business services, reflect not just displacements but also restructuring and streamlining that also entails promoting some 360 employees this week, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told Retail Dive in an interview.
"As we've previously stated, we've been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively," Walmart also said in an email to Retail Dive. "Those efforts continue. We understand these changes affect a number of our friends and colleagues, for whom we care deeply."
Meanwhile, the company’s Sam’s Club division, which earlier this month announced the closure of 63 stores in a shift to e-commerce, will streamline its merchandising teams beginning Feb. 3, merging six roles into three (merchant, senior merchant and divisional merchandise manager), Bloomberg also reports. The move won’t require job cuts.
Walmart’s announcement earlier this year that it will raise wages and hand out cash bonuses is being overshadowed by its plans to reduce its corporate ranks. At the National Retail Federation's Big Show earlier this month, CEO Doug McMillon told attendees the company is focused on investing in store-level employees, but made no mention of the store closures or the rumored job cuts. "The purpose is the purpose, the values are the values. Everything else is open to debate and may change," he said.
Employees getting pink slips in coming days will be paid for up to 60 days as they look for a new job and will have access to outplacement services, resume and interviewing skills training and counseling through Walmart's employee assistance program, the company told Retail Dive. If they have not found a job after 60 days, they will be offered a severance package as outlined in our severance policy, dictated by their position and length of service with the company. Eligible associates will also receive their fiscal year-end incentive award even if they depart the company before the bonuses are handed out.
Walmart’s corporate culture is fairly well entrenched after half a century, and changing it won't be a simple process. Over the summer, the stalwart's company culture began to clash with employees of Jet and other e-commerce players now owned by Walmart. But leadership has shown a willingness to embrace change, beginning with Jet and the addition of its founder, Marc Lore, now president and CEO of Walmart's e-commerce division and Retail Dive's Executive of the Year.
A transformation is evident in various forms at the retail giant, which last month announced that, as a corporate entity, effective Feb. 1, it will change its legal name from "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." to "Walmart Inc." to reflect its "growing status as an omnichannel retailer," McMillon said in a blog post. But the changes also demonstrate the company's effort to create a leaner corporate operation as well as a literal move to a new corporate campus that is still in the design and planning stages. Along with that, the significant downsizing reported this week could also serve to bring a more nimble organization.
While the new campus won't be ready for another five to seven years, it's meant to provide "accommodations for a more digitally native workforce and space that encourages greater collaboration and speed” compared to the existing patchwork of offices, the company said in September. In the process, operations like fashion and shoe distribution from Fort Smith, AR will move to a new location, away from that campus, and returns will be spread out to various facilities nationwide rather than transitioning to a new site, Hargrove said.