1st round of cuts hits Wal-Mart HQ in Arkansas

Posted: January 25, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

FILE — A Walmart in Kissimmee, Florida is shown in this Jan. 5, 2017 file photo.

UPDATE: Sources have confirmed more job cuts at Wal-Mart. Click here to read an updated story.

The jobs of an unspecified number of Wal-Mart employees in the retailer's marketing department in Bentonville were eliminated Wednesday, multiple sources said.

It was the first round of a process expected to affect hundreds of corporate Wal-Mart workers by the end of the month. Wal-Mart would not reveal the number of job cuts, but one of the sources said a limited number of workers was affected.

The cuts come nearly two weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported Wal-Mart is preparing for a large round of job cuts at the company's headquarters by next Wednesday, the end of the retailer's fiscal year. Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said then that the company had been looking at its structure for some time and pointed to those comments once again when contacted Wednesday.

"As we've previously stated, we've been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively. Those efforts continue," Hargrove said.

Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin said he did not receive a notice required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law from Wal-Mart informing him of any corporate job cuts Wednesday.

The federal act requires a company with more than 100 employees to notify the local government authority of a "mass layoff" that affects a certain number of full-time workers at an employment site during any 30-day period. McCaslin was informed about the January 2017 mass job cuts when the company eliminated 511 Bentonville employees across multiple divisions.

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Wal-Mart will continue to pay employees affected by Wednesday's cuts up to 60 days as they look for new jobs and also provide access to outplacement services, resume and interviewing skills training and counseling.

If those workers have not found jobs after 60 days, they will be offered a severance package based on position and length of service with Wal-Mart. Eligible workers also will receive their year-end incentive award.

The marketing cuts Wednesday are among several actions the company has taken this month as it continues to cut costs and improve the efficiency of its operations to better compete with Amazon.com.

Wal-Mart also is eliminating 3,500 co-manager positions in its stores, which can have as many as four employees in those positions. Some of the displaced co-managers will have opportunities to apply for other jobs, including 1,700 lower-paying assistant store manager roles that are being created.

Wal-Mart is closing 63 Sam's Clubs locations as well and the store closings are expected to affect about 10,000 workers. Sam's Club said it will convert as many as 12 of the closed stores into e-commerce fulfillment centers and will try to place as many workers as possible in other locations.

Alan Ellstrand, associate dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said earlier this month that the moves appear to be part of a reorganization that is healthy for a company like Wal-Mart to go through even though it is difficult for employees.

"I think smart companies, as painful as it is, have to continually reassess where they're at," Ellstrand said.

Business on 01/25/2018