Sears, Saks Parent Co. Both Cutting Jobs

Sears, Saks Parent Co. Both Cutting Jobs

New York–Both Sears and HBC, which operates Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, announced recently that they are laying off employees in an effort to cut costs.

Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears Holdings Corp. said Tuesday that it is cutting about 400 full-time positions–less than 1 percent of its total headcount of 140,000–at its corporate offices and support functions worldwide as well as “certain positions” in its field operations.

Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said the company is not disclosing specific figures in relation to field operations layoffs.

It’s part of the retailer’s effort to cut $1.25 billion in costs this fiscal year in the face of sliding sales brought on, in part, by a decline in mall traffic and competition from e-tailers like Amazon.

In the first quarter ended April 29, Sears Holdings Corp. reported a total sales decline of 19 percent to $4.3 billion. Same-store sales were down 12 percent, including 11 percent at Kmart and 12 percent at Sears stores in the U.S.

The retailer, however, posted its first quarterly profit in about two years, with a net income attributable to shareholders of $244 million, compared with a loss of $471 million in the same quarter last year.

Also as part of its cost-cutting initiative, Sears has shuttered nearly a quarter of its stores over the past year. As of the first quarter ended April 29, the company operated a total of 1,275 stores, down from 1,622 at the same time last year.

This includes the 150 stores–42 Sears and 108 Kmart locations–the company announced back in January that it would be closing this year.

Those closures are already complete, with various media outlets reporting that the retailer will shutter as many as 96 more stores by the end of the summer, bringing the total number of store closures close to 250 in the first half of the year.

Riefs did not respond to request for comment on these reports.

Sears ranked No. 7 on National Jeweler’s 2016 list of $100 Million Supersellers, with an estimated $750 million in fine jewelry and watch sales in fiscal year 2015.

Toronto-based retailer HBC announced last Thursday that it plans to cut 2,000 positions, including those previously announced in February, as part of a restructuring plan that will save more than $350 million. The 2,000 job cuts represent about 3 percent of HBC’s worldwide workforce of approximately 66,000. 

HBC operates Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off Fifth, which ranked No. 26 on National Jeweler’s 2016 list of $100 Million Supersellers, as well as Lord & Taylor, online retailer Gilt, Hudson’s Bay and, in Europe, Galeria Kaufhof and Galeria Inno.

The company said the cuts will “flatten the organization by removing layers to make HBC more nimble and streamline the decision-making process.”

The restructuring plan also realigns the company’s expenses so it is pouring more money into its digital operations, which showed growth in Q1.

HBC reported Thursday that it saw total and same-store sales decline 3 percent in the first quarter ended April 29. Online sales, meanwhile, grew almost 6 percent.

“We are reallocating resources to accelerate the opportunity we see online, as we run our brick-and- mortar operations more efficiently … At this critical moment of change in the retail industry, I believe in the future of our all-channel model and we are adapting to meet the evolving needs of our customers,” said Richard Baker, HBC governor and executive chairman.

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