JCP Sheds 2,200 Workers in Effort to Right the Ship

JCPenney is no stranger to the news, but the retailer has tried to keep quiet the layoff of approximately 2,200 employees at 100 of its stores and district offices. The move was made to contain costs as it contends with deep sales declines. On Tuesday afternoon store managers watched a "secret broadcast" that informed them to be prepared to "work harder with less" in 2013.

The latest job cuts were concentrated in about 100 locations where sales fell the most and back office positions. Effective April 5, service leaders (store managers), administrative assistants and office/cash room associates are being cut from the hierarchy.

A spokeswoman for the retailer said none of the cuts affected staff who deal with customers. "We wanted to ensure that these reductions do not compromise the level of customer service provided in stores," said spokeswoman Daphne Avila in an e-mail.

Last week, the retailer reported sales had fallen 25 percent in the first year of Ron Johnson's strategy to redesign stores into collections of branded boutiques and doing away with sales events and coupons.

Since Johnson's takeover 19,000 employees have lost their jobs, including in-store associates, middle managers, salon receptionists, call center workers, corporate employees and more.

What's bad for JCP, however, is good news for competitors such as Belk, the Southern department store chain. A source at Belk told Apparel that the company is not only seeing new customers who are no longer shopping with JCP, but also scooping up the struggling retailer's employees as well.

This article was originally published by RIS News, an Apparel sister publication.

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