Walmart Inc., No. 3 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, has eliminated hundreds of corporate positions, according to people familiar with the matter, as retailers around the country slim down at the back-office level. Walmart has laid off workers in departments including store planning, logistics and real estate, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly, according to Bloomberg.
Those who lose their jobs will be paid until the end of January, when Walmart’s fiscal year ends and annual bonuses get doled out, according to one of the people.
The move is an acknowledgment that Walmart is simply not opening many new stores in the U.S. anymore, so it doesn’t need as many people to find new locations and design them. It’s also part of a multi-year streamlining effort that has sought to simplify its U.S. operations and consolidate its brick-and-mortar and online divisions. The initiative included reducing the number of regional operating units, and shuttering its Jet.com ecommerce unit.
The retailer’s merchandising division, whose buyers choose what products to carry and how to price them, could also get hit with job reductions as store and digital positions get merged, two of the people said. Some of those impacted might find other jobs inside Walmart, according to one of the people. Layoffs are also happening in departments like transportation, human resources and product design, one of the people said.
Retailers of all sizes have been trimming back-office workforces during the pandemic. L Brands Inc. (No. 27), the owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, said it will eliminate 850 office jobs, or about 15% of its corporate staff. Last month, Macy’s Inc. (No. 15) said it was eliminating 3,900 corporate and management jobs. Tailored Brands (No. 150) and Levi Strauss & Co. (No. 177) are cutting corporate positions, too.
But they’re all reeling during the pandemic, while Walmart—America’s go-to for groceries and other essentials—has seen sales surge. In May, Walmart reported coronavirus-related stockpiling led to a boost in quarterly sales, underscoring the company’s strong position amid widespread carnage in the U.S. retail sector. It next reports earnings on Aug. 18.
In other ecommerce news:
- Nike Inc. (No. 24) has promoted Felicia Mayo, former Tesla Inc. executive, to become its new head of diversity, turning to a Black veteran of Silicon Valley to help make the sportswear giant more inclusive. Mayo, who worked at Tesla Inc., Juniper Networks Inc. and Oracle Corp. before joining Nike last year, will take the title of chief talent, diversity and culture officer. Kellie Leonard—who had served as Nike’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, a slightly different title—is stepping down.
CEO John Donahoe has said the company aspires to be “a leader in building a diverse, inclusive team and culture.” Though Nike is known for sponsoring Black athletes and appealing to Black consumers, it has fallen short of its ideals internally, he said in a memo to employees last month. “What I have learned is that many have felt a disconnect between our external brand and your internal experience,” said Donahoe, who became CEO in January. “You have told me that we have not consistently supported, recognized and celebrated our own Black teammates in a manner they deserve. This needs to change.”
- Hennes & Mauritz AB (No. 11 in the Digital Commerce 360 Europe 500) suspended several employees after a new hat for the Swedish retailer’s chain & Other Stories was given an internal product name that contained a racist slur. “We take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously,” company spokesperson Ulrika Isaksson said in a statement Thursday. “While internal and external investigations are taking place, we have suspended the team and managers responsible for this area of the business.”
Companies worldwide are reviewing their policies on diversity following weeks of anti-racism protests in the U.S. after George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. After pulling the hoodie, which provoked protests at some stores in South Africa, H&M appointed a global head of diversity and inclusiveness, saying the retailer needs to avoid racism in any form, deliberate or accidental. H&M is stepping up its efforts to improve diversity within the company, Isaksson said. Measures include stronger internal controls and an external advisory council with business executives from diverse backgrounds.
Pinterest Inc.’s former chief operating officer Francoise Brougher claims in a lawsuit that she was fired in April after speaking up about gender discrimination by the company’s male-run leadership team. Brougher claims she was excluded from board meetings and eventually fired after she complained to the human resources department about sexist comments by the company’s chief financial officer. Instead of “doing the hard work” to address her concerns, Brougher said the company chose instead to “protect the comfort” of her male peers. Brougher also said she was paid less than her male counterparts and was criticized for not being “compliant” or “collaborative” enough. Pinterest faced similar public complaints in June by two women who worked on the company’s policy team and also claimed they were fired for speaking out about gender and racial discrimination, prompting CEO Ben Silbermann to admit “parts of our culture are broken.” The company hired a team of outside lawyers to investigate. Brougher claims the company tried to cover up her firing, which she says cost her millions of dollars in lost earnings.
- BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. (No. 333 in the Top 1000) named Monica Schwartz as senior vice president and chief digital officer. She started her role on Aug. 3. Prior to joining the warehouse clubs operator, she was vice president of online merchandising at home improvement retailer The Home Depot Inc. (No. 5) for two years. She will be responsible for the strategic leadership of the company’s digital business, such as its ecommerce site, mobile app, digital coupons, buy online pick up in store and same-day grocery delivery. “We remain committed to scaling our digital business and launching new offerings that deliver convenience and delight our members,” said Lee Delaney, president and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club. “[Schwartz’s] extensive knowledge, experience and diverse background will be instrumental as we continue to accelerate our digital priorities and transform BJ’s Wholesale Club.”
- Product reviews and user-generated content platform Bazaarvoice Inc. acquired Curalate, which provides shoppable social media and influencer marketing to more than 1,000 brands and retailers, such as Best Buy Co. Inc. (No. 10) and lululemon Athletica Inc. (No. 55), for an undisclosed amount. With the integration of Curalate, Bazaarvoice can offer its customers the ability to use marketing content to drive sales on social media and ecommerce sites. Bazaarvoice works with more than 6,200 brands and retailers. Curalate co-founders, Apu Gupta and Nick Shiftan, will join the Bazaarvoice team.