A month after CEO Robert Niblock notified employees that Lowe's would cut 2,400 jobs company-wide, the home improvement retailer has announced plans to lay off some 500 corporate employees, including 430 people at its Mooresville, NC headquarters, 70 support positions from its Wilkesboro, NC customer service offices and 25 corporate support staffers elsewhere, a Lowe's spokesperson told Retail Dive
The structure results in a leaner organization with fewer managerial layers, in order to "make decisions more quickly, operate efficiently and foster a culture that innovates as fast as customers expect," Lowe's corporate relations manager Karen Cobb told Retail Dive in an email, adding that the creation of 600 jobs in Wilkesboro to support contact center and central production operations will keep Lowe's employment presence in North Carolina consistent.
Indeed, the corporate job cuts follow weeks after Lowe's announced the hiring of 1,700 full-time employees to fill new customer support and central production office positions in Indianapolis, Albuquerque and Wilkesboro. Lowe's also announced earlier this month that it would hire more than 45,000 seasonal employees in anticipation of the busy spring/summer home improvement season.
The home improvement sector is among the healthiest in retail, and Moody’s Investors Service analysts have said they expect that trend to continue in the months ahead. "Home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's will benefit from the continuing robust recovery of the housing market, and the subsiding deflationary pressure on supermarkets in 2017 should result in the sub-sector outperforming the broader retail industry,” Mickey Chadha, Moody's vice president and senior credit officer, said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive in December.
Cobb's statement reflects such an approach: "While the staffing decisions announced today are not easy, we look forward to continuing to invest in the future of our business so that we can better serve customers wherever and whenever they choose to engage with us," she said. "Our goal is to serve more customers, more effectively in-store, online, in-home, at the jobsite, and through our contact centers."
Lowe’s in November lowered its guidance after Q3 results missed analyst expectations, while larger rival Home Depot this month handily beat analysts’ expectations with its fourth quarter earnings report, posting an overall same-store sales rise of 5.8% (including U.S. same-store sales growth of 6.3%). But by other measures, Lowe’s is demonstrating higher productivity, according to Market Realist. Streamlining its workforce may help Lowe’s keep up that pace.
Beyond cutting corporate positions and adding seasonal staff, Lowe's has in recent weeks shaken up its executive suite. In mid-January Marshall A. Croom, a 20-year company veteran, was promoted to the position of chief financial officer, effective March 3. Croom succeeds Robert F. Hull Jr., who announced plans to retire after 17 years with the organization. Days later, Lowe's named Joceyln Wong its new chief marketing officer, replacing Marci Grebstein, who left the company.
Lowe’s has also been assertive about transforming its in-store experience, bringing in new technology including robots, as well as virtual and augmented reality. In November it announced a store-within-a-store partnership with retail customer engagement startup b8ta to feature smart home devices and setups.