Wal-Mart said on Tuesday it would invest about $500 million this year to strengthen its presence in Canada, creating more than 7,500 jobs including construction. The investments include more than $376 million for store projects, $91 million for distribution networks to expand fresh food capability and $31 million for e-commerce projects. Wal-Mart's expansion plans comes a week after Target said it would open nine new stores across Canada, adding to the 124 it opened last year.
Best Buy said Thursday that it's laying off 950 of its Canadian employees, the first major cutback since the electronics retailer reported disappointing holiday sales earlier this month. The company said the layoffs affected 6 percent of its workforce in Canada and will not result in any store closings. At the end of January a year ago, Best Buy closed 15 stores in Canada. It currently has 265 stores in Canada and had 16,000 Canadian employees before the layoffs. The move is another sign of retrenchment from the upward trajectory the consumer electronics giant experienced for much of last year.
Sears Canada is laying off 624 employees, the second time in as many weeks the struggling retailer has announced cost-saving cuts to its workforce. The company, whose sales have fallen for the last seven fiscal years in a battle with stronger rivals like Wal-Mart, Costco and Winners, said late Wednesday that the layoffs will lead to more effective communication between management and its store associate teams. The cuts result in an average reduction of five associates per store from a mid-tier level, the retailer said.
Teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch stripped its chief executive, Mike Jeffries, of his chairman duties, bowing to investor pressure to reduce his control over the struggling company. "It seems like it's a political and respectful way of approaching a CEO issue without saying we're gonna throw you to the curb," said Simeon Siegel, an analyst at Nomura Equity Research. Jeffries, 69, hired in 1992 to revamp what was an ailing sports brand, has faced criticism for failing to stop the retailer from ceding market share to chains like Forever 21 and Inditex's Zara.
Wal-Mart said it's eliminating 2,300 workers at its Sam's Club division as it reduces the ranks of middle managers in a bid to be more nimble. The layoffs, which cut 2 percent of the membership club's U.S. employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam's Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores. The cuts come as Sam's Club strives to compete better with Costco Wholesale Corp. and online players like Amazon.com's Prime membership service.
American Eagle said after the market closed Wednesday that Chief Executive Robert Hanson has left his post after less than two years, a move that stunned Wall Street. The teen apparel retailer said Executive Chairman Jay L. Schottenstein, who was previously chief executive from March 1992 through December 2002, will temporarily fill in for Hanson. The company said it will start looking for a permanent replacement. Executive Creative Director Roger S. Markfield, who is also vice chairman, agreed to delay his planned retirement and continue in his current roles, according to American Eagle.
Target on Wednesday announced plans to eliminate 475 jobs from its global workforce. The cuts come about a month after Target reported a major breach of customer information during the holiday shopping season. Spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the cuts are unrelated to the breach. "We believe these decisions, while difficult, are the right actions as we continue to focus on transforming our business," she said. "We will continue to invest in key business areas to strengthen our ability to compete and thrive well into the future." The discount retailer has about 361,000 employees worldwide and more than 1,700 U.S. stores.
Along with the bigger news of plans to close 33 stores leading to the layoff of 2,000 workers, J.C. Penney also revealed last week that it was reinstating commission pay for associates in its window coverings, furniture and fine jewelry departments. The switch, set to occur in February and March, will affect more than 3,000 associates. "Offering a competitive salary base that includes a commission incentive not only helps in retaining some of our best sales associates, it motivates them to build and maintain stronger customer relationships," the company stated in an email sent to media outlets.
The opening of Postal Service retail centers in dozens of Staples stores around the country is being met with threats of protests and boycotts by the agency's unions. The new outlets are staffed by Staples employees, not postal workers, and labor officials say that move replaces good-paying union jobs with low-wage, nonunion workers. "It's a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services," said Mark Dimondstein, president of the 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union.
Calling Dollar General's wages "shamefully low," political activist Ralph Nader has urged CEO Richard Dreiling to support raising the minimum wage. In a letter dated Dec. 8, Nader argued that raising the minimum wage would aid the economy and boost revenues at the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based discount retailer through increased consumer spending and lower employee turnover. He urged Dreiling to join Costco CEO Craig Jelinek in advocating for a national minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour.