Corporate, field leadership positions eliminated at Chico’s

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Layoffs are taking place at Chico’s, one of Lee County’s largest employers.

The terminations are for corporate and field leadership positions and do not impact retail stores, a company spokesperson said.

The number of employees being laid off was not immediately available, though a source told WINK News that it’s believed more than 100 people were let go Monday and Tuesday. The source added that all the cuts in this round of layoffs have already taken place.

Those laid off will receive severance pay, health benefits and job placement help.

Chico’s, which began with a single store on Sanibel in 1983, employs about 1,400 people at its Fort Myers headquarters. The cuts are to corporate positions and some district and regional managers as the company shifts its focus to digital growth and online sales, WINK News has learned.

The company stepped up its cost-cutting measures since first quarter results missed expectations in May, according to MarketWatch. The measures include simplifying its supply chain and improving marketing with the goal of generating annual savings of up to $70 million.

Corporate positions were on the chopping block in June and 240 positions were eliminated across the company in February 2015. The company is in the process of closing 120 stores over a three-year period.

Chico’s installed former Wal-Mart executive Shelley Broader as CEO in December 2015.

The company received a combined $6.5 million in job creation incentives from Lee County and the state of Florida in recent years. Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman said the company had fulfilled its obligation to the county for that taxpayer money despite the layoffs.

“It’s not a role of government to make sure that businesses don’t respond to the market,” Hamman said.

Tuesday’s news comes in advance of a Wednesday conference call with security analysts to review operating results for the second quarter.

Chico’s, in addition to its namesake stores, also has brands including White House Black Market and lingerie label Soma.


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