Menomonee Falls-based Kohl's Corp. said Tuesday that it reduced its corporate workforce by approximately 15% due to "ongoing pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business.""Over the past several months, Kohl's has taken several decisive actions to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis," Jen Johnson, senior vice president of communications said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "Our decisions have prioritized the health and safety of our customers and associates, and preserving the financial position of the company."
The company declined to provide a total headcount for the layoffs, but said the 15% includes "hundreds" of existing corporate positions and open positions across multiple departments at its Menomonee Falls headquarters, as well as offices in New York City and California.
Kohl's is a large corporation, ranked 165 on the Fortune 500 list.
Rumors of Tuesday's job cuts began circulating Tuesday morning through TheLayoff.com, a public forum where people anonymously share information about layoffs at U.S. companies. One person on that forum commented they heard as many as 600 Kohl's employees lost their jobs.
It's been a rough year for Kohl's. In mid-February, the company laid off 250 employees, likely in response to poor numbers in 2019. A month later, the retail industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 20, Kohl’s temporarily closedits 1,100 stores in 49 states. The company furloughed 85,000 employees, providing two weeks of pay and continuation of existing health benefits.
As a result, Kohl's lost more than $500 million in the first quarter, reporting a 43.5% decrease in net sales.
"Our organization continues to navigate through a period of extraordinary change and uncertainty presented by the COVID-19 crisis," said chief executive officer Michelle Gass in a statement included in Kohl's Q2 earnings report last month.
Kohl's second quarter earnings were down 80% compared to 2019, with both revenue and net sales dipping about 23%. Meanwhile, digital sales during the second quarter were up 58% over last year.
Unlike other big-box retailers who have reduced their store footprint in recent years with the rise of e-commerce and Amazon, the company has refused to shut down its 1,150 store locations.
"The organizational changes we’ve made and keen focus on our strategic business priorities will continue to support our long-term success," said Johnson.
Johnson said Kohl's remains well positioned to navigate industry disruption and evolving consumer taste.
Still, this most recent round of corporate layoffs illustrates just how much the company's structure has changed in the past decade. In 2011, Kohl's had briefly considered building a new headquarters complex in downtown Milwaukee's Park East corridor, with more than 1 million square feet of space for 4,500 to 5,000 employees. The company ultimately decided against that move, opting instead to acquire and renovate existing buildings near its existing headquarters on Ridgewood Drive.