- Men's clothing seller Bonobos is making cuts to staff, which comes on the heels of parent Walmart unloading the online apparel and accessories retailer ModCloth.
- According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, "a few dozen" of Bonobos' 600 employees are being laid off this week.
- "Today we made the difficult decision to part ways with valued members of the Bonobos team," a Bonobos spokesperson told Retail Dive in an emailed statement. "These decisions are not taken lightly, but we believe they are necessary to set the brand and business up for long term success."
Walmart is keeping tight-lipped about what's going on behind-the-scenes at its e-commerce unit, but the ModCloth sale and reported moves are possible signs that a shake up in strategy is afoot.
Walmart announced it was acquiring the digitally native menswear brand for $310 million a little over two years ago. The announcement came just months after the announced acquisition of ModCloth, which Walmart just sold to financial advisory firm Go Global Retail.
Walmart is also reportedly in talks around JetBlack, the high-end text-based concierge service it announced officially with much hoopla summer 2018.
The service, which Walmart chief Marc Lore used to lure Jenny Fleiss away from Rent the Runway, reaches upper-income families in New York City, who spend on average $1,500 per month through the service. But, according to the Journal, Walmart is racking up an annual loss of $15,000 for each of the service's members. Now Walmart is reportedly in talks to sell, spin off or find a partner for JetBlack.
The retailer, according to Vox's Recode, has also considered selling Bonobos but opted against it. ModCloth, Bonobos and Eloquii — another fairly recently acquired, digitally native brand — are all still unprofitable, according to Recode. To boot, Walmart's online business as a whole is reportedly facing a $1 billion loss for the year.
Taken together, the various moves point to a possible strategy shift in Walmart's digital arm. On Lore's arrival at Walmart with the purchase of Jet.com, the company went on a spree, buying up digitally savvy upscale brands and services tied to Jet that serve higher-income urban consumers.
But now Walmart seems to be shifting away from this vision for its e-commerce business. Along with the ModCloth sale, Walmart has nixed Jet's executive role and folded the site into its broader e-commerce operations.
Since Walmart acquired Bonobos, the brand's founder, Andy Dunn, has taken on the role of senior vice president of digital consumer brands within the retail giant's e-commerce unit. The goal for Bonobos was to keep operating independently, maintain its brand identity as a cool clothier focused on fit, and keep expanding. With the layoffs, at least the growth part of that formula may now be in question.