Between July 27 and 30, Walmart informed hundreds of employees, perhaps more, that their jobs are being eliminated. Walmart has not released how many people are affected, but anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the number is in the hundreds. Social media posts suggest the number may be over 1,000.
Walmart U.S. President and CEO John Furner sent a memo to all U.S.-based associates on July 30, titled “Changing how we work,” that was emailed to Retail TouchPoints. “We’re taking some important but difficult steps this week,” Furner wrote. “We are streamlining some roles so we can be more effective and efficient. At the same time, we’re creating new roles, particularly in our supply chain, in our stores and in other facilities, which will open up new opportunities.” Walmart did not respond to Retail TouchPoints’ request for information on how many new roles would be created.
Furner’s memo directed employees to links providing further details that six members of company leadership would be sharing about changes in their respective areas, but that information was not accessible to Retail TouchPoints.
Social media posts, and the fact that five EVP-level executives and the SVP who runs Walmart’s Health & Wellness clinics all made announcements, suggest that personnel at all levels and locations are being affected. These include supply chain, real estate, merchandising operations, product operations, health & wellness, human resources, marketing, customer service and e-Commerce.
Walmart saw a spike in e-Commerce sales during the pandemic, but this unit was hit hard by the downsizing, according to Talk Business & Politics, which covers Arkansas, where Walmart is headquartered. “The company scaled up its e-Commerce division in the past few years under Marc Lore, Walmart U.S. eCommerce CEO. But heavy losses in the segment and the renewed effort to streamline the business have prompted heavy job cuts with dozens of category specialists and analysts let go this week,” the site reported.
The e-Commerce division, which grew out of Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com in 2016, is headquartered in San Bruno, Calif., a competitive and high-priced market for tech personnel. Numerous social media posters wrote that Walmart plans to consolidate e-Commerce operations at its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, but few workers were offered the option to relocate.
Talk Business & Politics also said that Walmart’s real estate division lost 250 people, noting that Walmart has opened only three stores between April 2019 and January 2020.
Multiple sources say the restructuring plans were in place for several months and are not related to COVID-19. However, according to Furner, the company is “enhancing the support to affected associates” in light of the “economic uncertainty from this unprecedented pandemic.”
While social media sites lit up with the bad news about job losses, many posters applauded the generosity of Walmart’s package. “All those affected will be paid through the end of this fiscal year (January 31, 2021) as they look for new roles, with dedicated support throughout the search process,” Furner wrote. “Those who take new roles at Walmart will receive one year of salary protection and their bonus for this year. In the case of associates who do not assume a new role, they will receive their bonus for this year, transition benefits and severance, as eligible.”
Cuts In Operations Announced Earlier
In its July 30 story, Bloomberg reported that Walmart is “consolidating divisions and eliminating some regional manager roles,” but according to a former Walmart executive, store operations were restructured in a separate round of reductions that was announced internally earlier this month. Neighborhood Markets are consolidated into one division, which remains, but operational divisions for the 3,569 Walmart Supercenters and 376 Discount Stores were cut from four to three.
The bulk of the winnowing was done at the regional level. The former Walmart executive estimated that Walmart trimmed eight to 10 regions (out of approximately 36 total) that were previously set up for the Supercenters and Discount Stores, while Neighborhood Markets lost two of its previous six regions. In addition to the elimination of the heads of the division and regions, the restructuring resulted in a consolidation of support positions that were allocated to those units, the source said.