Wal-Mart lays off up to 800 at home office

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to lay off up to 800 workers at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, the company said Tuesday.

Citing “unprecedented times,” Wal-Mart Stores President and CEO Mike Duke said in a memo distributed to employees Tuesday that workers would learn in the coming weeks about changes to “align our staffing and organizational structure to increase operational efficiencies, support our strategic growth plans and help reduce our overall costs.”

Duke said the company expects the changes to affect about 700 to 800 home office posts in the merchandising, real estate, marketing and support divisions in Wal-Mart U.S., Sam’s Club merchandising and some corporate functions.

About 14,000 people work at the Bentonville offices.

The restructuring will not affect retail operations, and the company plans to continue to add thousands of jobs in its retail stores this year, he said. Some of the changes will create additional management jobs elsewhere, Duke said in the memo without elaborating.

A Wal-Mart spokesman, David Tovar, told The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas that the company is moving its apparel buying to New York City for the efficiencies of being in the garment district.

He also said that some of those cut include marketing and buying staff for its pharmacy, optical and medical clinics units, which are being consolidated into one health-and-wellness group, according to the publication.

Those losing their jobs will be offered 60 days of pay and health coverage, and severance if eligible, he told the publication.

Wal-Mart said its same-store sales grew 2.1 percent in January, while competitor Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) saw its same-store sales slip 3.3 percent last month.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) includes Wal-Mart supercenters, discount stores, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club warehouses.