Layoffs are starting to hit the retail sector.
The Bay is laying off about 250 corporate workers, mostly at its Toronto headquarters, WWD has learned.
News of the layoffs at The Bay, which operates Thebay.com e-commerce in Canada, come in the wake of the 100 or so layoffs that occurred at Saks.com this month, as first reported by WWD on Jan. 20.
The Bay is part of the HBC portfolio of retail businesses including Hudson’s Bay, which operates 84 stores in Canada under that banner. In 2021, HBC split Thebay.com and Hudson’s Bay into separate e-commerce and store companies, to drive a “digital-first” agenda, just like HBC did earlier with its Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th divisions.
“As the retail sector navigates significant external pressures, The Bay is realigning its strategic priorities and increasing efficiencies within its operations,” an HBC spokeswoman said Tuesday. “Today we announced impacts to some corporate roles within the business, reflecting less than 2 percent of associates. While these decisions are not easy, we are committed to treating everyone with fairness and respect.” The 2 percent pertains to the combined workforce across all of The Bay and Hudson’s Bay businesses.
The layoffs occurring at HBC are across various corporate functions, a source told WWD.
HBC would not confirm that 250 corporate employees at The Bay are being let go, other than saying it represented 2 percent. The 100 workers at Saks.com that were let go represented about 3.5 percent of its workforce.
Earlier this month, Sophia Hwang-Judiesch was appointed president of The Bay and Hudson’s Bay. She had been serving as president of Hudson’s Bay. In her new role, she succeeded Iain Nairn, president and chief executive officer of The Bay, who is retiring this month. The CEO title is not expected to be filled.
Up to this month, the retail sector, unlike the tech, financial and telecom industries, had been immune to layoff. However, the personnel cuts at Saks.com and The Bay could just be just the beginning for the retail industry. With retail sales softening and the possibility of a recession looming, layoffs at other retail corporations could materialize soon, though industry sources believe that to cut costs so that they’re more in line with sales expectations, executive positions, rather than frontline retail workers, are at risk.