Business

Lowe’s cutting 2,400 full-time jobs as part of staffing overhaul

A Lowe’s store in Gastonia
A Lowe’s store in Gastonia mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s informed about 2,400 of its full-time employees Tuesday that they were losing their jobs, carrying out layoffs that have been anticipated since last week.

The majority of the cuts are at the store level – one to two assistant store managers per location are losing their jobs – though other affected positions are at distribution centers, contact centers and at the company’s corporate office in Mooresville, Lowe’s said.

The layoffs affect less than 1 percent of the company’s global workforce of 285,000.

Last week, the Observer and other news outlets reported that Lowe’s was expected to announce job cuts as part of an overhaul of its staffing model. The staffing changes are being done now in order to prepare for the spring selling season, the busiest time of the year for home improvement retailers.

The staffing changes are intended to address the “dramatic shifts that are reshaping the retail landscape,” spokeswoman Colleen Penhall said. The changes, she said, will enable Lowe’s to “better serve customers’ evolving shopping preferences.”

Lowe’s, the nation’s second biggest home improvement retailer behind Home Depot, has struggled to improve its profitability as customer traffic slowed in recent months. In its latest quarterly earnings report, Lowe’s reported that sales and profit fell below Wall Street expectations, prompting the retailer to lower its full-year expectations. As a way to trim costs, Lowe’s in November said it was cutting workers’ hours.

Lowe’s staffing changes include the shifting of responsibility from some roles to others, the company said. For example, the department manager title is being eliminated, though those workers may be promoted or shift into new roles. The majority of affected workers, the company said, have the chance to apply for a new job at Lowe’s.

“The changes will better align store staffing with customer demand, shift resources from back-of-the-store activities to customer-facing ones, and enhance our efficiency and productivity,” Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock said in an email to employees Tuesday.

“I recognize that change is never easy, but I’m confident that if we focus our organizational talent and investments on our omni-channel strategy, we’ll deliver a better customer experience.”

The company said it is providing severance and outplacement resources to displaced workers as part of the transition package to those affected.

At an investor conference last month, Lowe’s said that it expects to make $3.6 billion in capital investments, including plans to add 15-20 new stores per year, over the next three years. The expansion, Lowe’s said, will create approximately 4,000 new store-level jobs.

Separately Tuesday, Lowe’s announced the retirement of Bob Hull as its chief financial officer. Marshall Croom, 56, who has been with Lowe’s for two decades, will succeed Hull as CFO March 3.

Hull, 52, will remain with the company through March “to ensure a smooth transition,” Lowe’s said. The company also said Hull’s retirement is part of “a deliberate succession management process.”

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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