Home improvement retailer Lowe’s has laid off more than 500 full-time corporate employees company-wide in its latest effort to streamline the company and boost profitability.
The layoffs include 430 workers at Lowe’s headquarters in Mooresville, or nearly 11 percent of its workforce there, as well as 70 support staffers in Wilkesboro and about 25 corporate support positions in other facilities across the U.S., the company told the Observer on Tuesday.
The layoffs amount to less than 1 percent of Lowe’s 285,000 employees company-wide. Those who lost jobs will receive severance and outplacement services, the company said.
The retailer said the cuts Tuesday are the next phase in an effort announced in January to update the company’s store staffing as it works to meet changing customer demands. The layoffs are intended to create a “more agile and efficient operating structure for corporate-based positions,” spokeswoman Colleen Penhall said.
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Meanwhile, Lowe’s will be seeking workers to fill more than 100 various new positions at its corporate offices in Mooresville over the next several weeks, the company said. Laid-off employees can apply for any open roles across the company.
“Decisions that impact our people are the most difficult ones we make in our business. I can assure you that we make them only after careful consideration and with the understanding that our actions today were needed to position Lowe’s for the future,” CEO Robert Niblock said in a memo to employees Tuesday.
One corporate employee in Mooresville who had been with the company for about three years before her termination Tuesday said all affected employees were called into a brief meeting, where they were told their position “no longer existed in the new organization structure.”
“There was lots of crying,” said the employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
The latest job changes come about a month after Lowe’s cut about 2,400 full-time positions across its U.S. footprint as part of a rollout of a new store staffing model. The majority of those cuts were at the store level, Lowe’s said, though other affected positions were at distribution centers, contact centers and at the company’s corporate offices.
In October, the retailer also laid off about 95 people in its information technology department.
Even as it makes these cuts, the company is adding other positions. Last week, Lowe’s announced plans to hire 1,700 full-time workers, including 600 in Wilkesboro, to staff its customer-support centers between now and October. With the latest staffing changes, Penhall said, Lowe’s overall employment in North Carolina will remain consistent.
Before the recent layoffs, Lowe’s employed more than 4,000 at its Mooresville offices, about 30 miles north of Charlotte. The company employs another 2,000 in Wilkesboro, a town about 90 miles northwest of Charlotte where Lowe’s was founded in 1946.
Analysts say layoffs at Lowe’s are a way to boost financial results that have consistently lagged behind larger rival Home Depot.
On Tuesday, Atlanta-based Home Depot reported a fourth-quarter profit that surged nearly 19 percent from the same period last year. Both earnings and sales topped Wall Street expectations, thanks to more customer visits and higher average sales.
Lowe’s reports its fourth-quarter financial results March 1.