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Walmart is laying off hundreds of employees from its home office in Bentonville, Ark., according to a report by KARK 4 News, Convenience Store News reported.
Walmart began laying off several hundred employees early Wednesday, Ed Clifford, of the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce, told the news station.
Workers affected by the layoffs told the news organization they were given packets with information about what to do next, including severance options.
Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke told home office associates in a letter on Wednesday that the company finds itself "living in unprecedented times, and I am reminded every day of how our company is uniquely positioned to help Americans weather the economic storm. We know that millions of working men and women are relying on our low prices more than ever before, and we must continue to be an advocate for them.
"Starting today, and over the next few weeks, you will be hearing from your leaders about some important changes designed to align our staffing and organizational structure to increase operational efficiencies, support our strategic growth plans and help reduce our overall costs. Some of these changes will involve reductions in Home Office positions, while others will create additional management jobs elsewhere. And, as part of our overall store growth plan, we will continue to add thousands of jobs in our stores and clubs this year."
The letter said Walmart expects the changes to impact 700 to 800 headquarters positions, including those in merchandising, real estate, marketing and support divisions in Walmart U.S., Sam's Club merchandising and corporate functions. The restructuring will not affect store and club operations.
"We do not make these decisions lightly, and every individual decision was carefully considered,” the CEO said in the letter, "We recognize this is a difficult development for the members of our Walmart family who will be leaving the company. While the number of associates that will be impacted by the restructuring is very small compared to the 2.2 million associates we have worldwide, I can assure you that we will treat them with care and dignity and help support them during their transition, consistent with our basic beliefs and respect for the individual."
The letter went on to say Walmart must "challenge costs in every corner of the company in order to keep our business strong today and well into the future."