OPERATIONS

J.C. Penney cuts 600 workers from headquarters staff

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The ax has fallen at J.C. Penney Co. The company on Thursday laid off 600 workers from its corporate headquarters Plano, Texas, as its looks to streamline its business model amid a major reinvention of the business. The staff reduction, which equaled 13% to 14% of the headquarters staff, did not include any senior executives, according to The New York Times.

J.C. Penney said its new approach to pricing, promotion, merchandising and the customer experience requires a more competitive operational structure, with fewer layers of management. In a statement, CEO Ron Johnson said J.C. Penny was going to operate like a start-up.

“We are going to extend the reach and span of control of our very best talent,” he said. “We are going to be nimble, quick to learn, quicker to react and totally committed to realizing our vision to become America’s favorite store. Often in business, companies must streamline in order to leap forward. In our case, this has involved some very difficult decisions that have had an impact on many of our associates, but these changes are essential to help us achieve our long-term goals and, ultimately, grow our associate base as we grow our business."

The staff reduction is of J.C. Penney’s previously announced plan to reduce annual expenses by $900 million by the end of 2013. This includes $200 million in savings from its corporate headquarters, as well as $400 million in cost savings in store operations and $300 million in advertising expense savings. The changes are expected to reduce expenses to below 30% of sales by the end of 2013.

In addition, the retailer said it will close its customer call center in Pittsburgh, on July 1. The move will eliminate 300 jobs.

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Walmart empowers women factory workers

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is offering the women who work in the factories that supply its products the chance for a better life with lessons in such critical life skills as communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occuputational health and safety and gender sensitivity. The Women in Factories program, a five-year initiative will benefit 60,000 women working in factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America. The program, which is being implemented in collaboration with local NGOs, will teach critical life skills related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity. Up to 8,000 women will also receive leadership training to develop the work and life skills necessary for personal and career development.

"At Walmart, we know that there is perhaps no single issue more essential to the progress of our world than the progress of women. Through this program, women in the supply chain will receive the education and training they need to achieve greater success in their jobs and live a better life," said Rajan Kamalanathan, VP Walmart ethical sourcing. "We are proud to partner with local NGOs to implement this innovative program and provide new opportunities for the people and communities that are involved in the global supply chain."

The program will be rolled out to 150 factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America over the next five years, initially launching in Bangladesh and India in 2012. The program was designed and will be implemented in collaboration with CARE in Bangladesh and SWASTI in India. The program will be evaluated by Northwestern University in partnership with DAI and Mission Measurement.

The Women in Factories program is part of Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative that Walmart president and CEO, Mike Duke, announced in September 2011. The initiative plays an important role in Walmart’s mission of improving the lives of our suppliers, associates and customers.

Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative aims to use the company’s global size and scale to empower women across its supply chain by focusing on five main goals:

  • Increase sourcing from women owned businesses,

  • Empower women on farms and factories,

  • Empower women through job training and education,

  • Increase gender diversity among major suppliers; and

  • Make significant philanthropic giving toward women’s economic empowerment.

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And the Get on the Shelf finalists are . . .

BY CSA STAFF

SAN BRUNO, Calif. — Walmart has revealed the 10 finalists that have been selected after the first round of public voting for its Get on the Shelf contest. According to the company, more than 4,000 inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses from across the country submitted products into the contest and more than one million votes were cast in a tight race where the American public voted for items they would like to see carried by Walmart. The three winning products will have the opportunity to be sold on Walmart.com and the Grand Prize winner will get the chance to be carried in select U.S. Walmart stores after the final round of voting is completed at the end of the month.

The 10 finalists inalphabetical order include:

  • Bios Clinical Acne System is an acne system that uses topical probiotics to treat adolescent and adult acne.

  • Humankind Water gives 100% of its net profits to provide clean drinking water for some of the one billion people in this world dying without it.

  • Mr. Spritz Mysterious Shirts are entertaining t-shirts containing hidden images that appear when the garment gets wet and disappear when dry.

  • Plate Topper transforms dinner plates into airtight food storage containers to save meals, leftovers and snacks. They are dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe and 100 percent BPA-free.

  • Sola-Bag Forever Carry Refrigerator is a lunch bag that stays cold forever by generating energy from solar power and indoor lighting.

  • Soleeze Spring Loaded Insoles are spring-loaded insoles and shock absorbers that fit into any shoe or boot and last for years.

  • SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit is an easy way to fix your sunglasses or eyeglasses in 30 seconds.

  • SUSIE Magazine is a bimonthly Christian print magazine and online sisterhood for teen girls promoting healthy relationships, good role models and positive self-image.

  • Veterans Farm Datil Pepper Salt is a datil-infused kosher salt created at a Veterans Farm, where disabled combat veterans are taught farm skills to help them overcome physical and mental barriers and get jobs.

  • We the People Bracelet features silver sterling beads with ingrained detailed descriptions of the Amendments to the Bill of Rights.

"The top 10 finalists represent the smart and inspirational products that Walmart customers want to see on the shelf online and in their local stores," said Chris Bolte, VP @WalmartLabs. "We have been inspired by the creativity and passion of the contestants as they promote their products through traditional media, social marketing and personal networks. We look forward to the next round of voting where the winners will be decided by the American public."

Get on the Shelf will start its final round of voting April 11 through midnight on April 24, after which the top three winners will be announced. For more information and to vote, visit http://getontheshelf.com.

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