Walmart is cutting as many as 1,000 jobs at its headquarters this year and next, the latest effort to streamline a retail empire under threat from Amazon.
The first wave of layoffs totalled between 400 and 500 jobs and hit the company’s marketing, human resources, merchandising, real estate and other divisions this week, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain said. Those affected will have 60 days to find a new role.
A second phase of cutbacks will come in 2019, when some buildings are consolidated to make way for the company’s new corporate headquarters. Under 500 positions will be part of that wave, Walmart said.
The shake-up extends a busy month for the world’s largest retailer, which also shut 63 Sam’s Club warehouses and reorganised that unit’s purchasing division.
But even as it makes cuts, the company has also taken broader steps to retain employees - like boosting its hourly wage and creating new roles focused on its online grocery business.
Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon is betting that a leaner organisation can better battle Amazon, and has said Walmart “is not where we want to be” in terms of reducing corporate expenses.
“We’ve been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively,” the company said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “Those efforts continue. We’re committed to handling every transition smoothly and ensuring everyone is treated as fairly and respectfully as possible.”
The company has outgrown its current headquarters, a patchwork of more than 20 buildings in Northwest Arkansas.
The new campus, about two miles away, will take five to seven years to complete and include a fitness center, the company said last year. A company spokesman wouldn’t disclose how many employees currently work at its headquarters.
While competition with Amazon is intensifying, Walmart is handling it better than most retailers. In the third quarter, same-store sales in its home market rose the most in more than eight years.
Overall, the holiday shopping season was the best for US retailers since the Great Recession. Walmart reports its fourth-quarter results on February 20.