NEW YORK — Streamlining to raise profits and efficiencies, the Express division of Limited Brands Inc. has decided to cut about 140 jobs.

One hundred of those jobs will be eliminated at the Columbus, Ohio, office for Express. Another 40 or so will be taken out of the New York office for Express and from the field. Positions in financing, planning, allocation and marketing will be affected, bringing the Express central team down to about 300 people.

Lately, the performance at Express has been inconsistent and affected by major strategy shifts, which are expected to pay off down the road. Among the most significant has been the transformation from a fast-fashion orientation inspired by runway presentations to a more sophisticated and designed presentation, but still young in appeal. Express reported flat sales of $2.2 billion last year.

In addition, Express has become less price promotional, currently staging quarterly clearances, and the store count has been reduced to 914 units, from more than 1,100 in 2001.

Still, the corporation has been investing in Express stores by converting many to dual-gender stores and maintaining top-performing women’s stores and top-performing men’s stores.

Kenneth T. Stevens, Express chief executive officer, and Paul Raffin, president, issued a statement Tuesday that said: “Express associates today discussed the continuing evolution of the brand and our new organizational alignment and work processes. While the majority of our organizational changes are activity related, we are eliminating a number of positions and redefining roles and responsibilities throughout the organization.” 

The executives also said one-on-one meetings were held Tuesday morning where associates were let go, with the hope that many could be reassigned to other areas of Limited Brands. Outplacement services and severences are also being offered.

A hiring freeze at the division was initiated earlier this year to study the staffing situation. The company did not state how much money it hoped to save by the streamlining.

— D.M.

This story first appeared in the October 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.