Kmart axes top managers
Hundreds of headquarters workers might be next
March 11, 2003
BY JENNIFER DIXON
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Kmart Corp. began the latest round of layoffs at its corporate headquarters in Troy on Monday, letting go more than a dozen senior executives.
As many as hundreds of employees could be terminated later this month as Kmart gets ready to come out of bankruptcy by April 30 with a third fewer stores.
"As the company stated previously, we are reducing our corporate overhead to align with the reduced size of our store base and reflect the needs of the new Kmart, post emergence," Lori McTavish, a Kmart spokeswoman, said.
She said Kmart was first evaluating its senior management team and would eliminate 25 to 35 percent of senior level positions, including open positions, at its headquarters. It will then decide which of its remaining 2,900 headquarters workers would be let go.
McTavish could not say how many layoffs took place Monday.
But a person familiar with the situation said more than a dozen managers holding titles such as senior vice president and division vice president were the first to lose their jobs and that another 500 to 1,000 headquarters employees will follow as Kmart's restructuring hits the home stretch.
Kmart became the largest retailer in history to declare bankruptcy on Jan. 22, 2002, when it ran out of cash to pay its suppliers. Its turnaround has included closing about 600 stores and a distribution center in Corsicana, Texas, and firing 67,000 workers in stores.
Kmart's headquarters staff has also been shrinking since the bankruptcy, falling from about 3,900 a year ago to about 2,900 today. At its peak, Kmart had about 5,000 workers in the fortress-like building across from the upscale Somerset Collection shopping mall. When the bankruptcy cost-cutting is done, as few as 1,900 workers could be left behind.
Inside the building on Big Beaver Road there is "general paranoia" and turmoil among the employees as they wait to learn their fate, said someone who works there.
"Everyone is scared they are going to lose their jobs," that person said.
McTavish said Kmart is still evaluating the scope of the layoffs and cost cutting at its headquarters. Its goal is to be finished with the layoffs by the end of March.
"Once it's completed we will communicate the results of the initiative, first to our associates and then publicly," McTavish said.
Before declaring bankruptcy, Kmart had annual sales of $36 billion, 2,114 stores and 234,000 employees. Once out of bankruptcy, it expects sales this year of $25 billion. It would have slightly more than 1,500 stores and about 170,000 employees.
Kmart's finances collapsed in 2001 under the watch of a group of executives, including former chairman Chuck Conaway and president Mark Schwartz, known as the "Frat Boys."
They are now under investigation by the FBI for allegedly misusing corporate aircraft, misstating earnings reports to hide growing losses, and receiving improper payments from vendors.
Kmart's board, the Securities and Exchange Commission and a congressional committee are also investigating Kmart's downfall and how the company loaned 25 top executives $28 million in the weeks and months before it declared bankruptcy.
Kmart said that, as a result of its stewardship review, 10 former executives had been fired for cause and that some former executives were "grossly derelict in performing their duties to the company, its associates, its vendors and its investors."
I'm unsure as to what you all are saying about Ellen? Just come to our store and watch what goes on...... sure ellen might talk on her cell phone a lot, but she runs our softlines RIGHT - and she even knows how to run the service desk when we are shortstaffed! Were you a 9408 employee, rain? Did you have first hand experience with Ellen? What she does on her own time is none of my business, I just thought it was interesting to see people i actually know, like Ellen, mentioned on this board. By the way, speaking of 9408, how are they holding up? I felt bad for the bunch.... The cut was between them and us the last go around of closings. Unfortunately, their lease was outrageous. But it was such a nice store, and I will always remember how well kept it really was. Amadore must have been a good manager.
What is this kmart girl thing all about? I'm in 3464 in sarasota with ellen and i like her very much - she's our softlines mgr. do you know her personally? i know she and vicki from 9408 despise each other, possibly because they were forced to switch stores with one another and both were happy in their original stores. and which jeff are u talking about? there are a few higher up jeffs in the district. jeff as in jeff grey - the one that got promoted to regional softlines?
I am a very solid individual. I spoke of the two's indiscretion based on real facts. I was just trying to make it look like a bad rumor.
The girls are:
Pam, former, Bradenton, now, who knows where, she looks like methamphetamine, I could be wrong....\
And shoemart from 9408.
What goes around comes around. Ask Amador Rincones from 9408.
The girls swear to the fact Jeff and Rod swing with them, along with greg, ops fron ellington. I just hope they are just being sluts!
So, I have nothing to lose, I dont work for Kmart anymore, I really hope these girls are being the sluts they are. I really have respect for Rod. He is a man of his word!
Yes he was,he was always enthuiastic.We had great sales when Jeff was at our store.He had such a zest for getting things done.We inturned picked up on it.
He made things happen,we inturn did our best.He made each day coming to work a pure joy.We were a happy productive team,under his guidance.He was a "Golden Boy".Wonderful man always was working with his sleeves rolled up.He helped everybody.
Jeff Grey served as our district manager for district 18 on the gulf coast of florida for over 2 years. In fact, he moved just down the road from our store. The staff of our store loved him and he helped boost our sales. I'm sure he will do a wonderful job as regional softlines in Atlanta. Our store's hardlines manager told me that if it weren't for the increases in sales that Grey helped us acheive during the months before the last round of closings, our store very well could have been axed like so many of the others. Was Grey good in your stores too?
"Lampert has to change Kmart's game plan, perhaps drastically as the current business model noticeably isn't working from a marketing perspective, for whatever reason[s]. "
Lampert already has his plan in place...for his minimal investment (whatever it was- maybe $500 million total?) he will take ownership of @ $1.5 billion dollars in inventory. Can you say "liquidation" and "triple your money"?
Wake up and smell the poo-poo...Kmart is through.
He could have been worse than Hitler. That is not the point. Base a persons character on what you know not "What they are saying". Call it like it is but know what you're talking about. Call him a jerk,
You probably thought that Hitler was a good guy.Sometimes you just have to believe the people that knew him.I would hardly call that slander.
You probably dont believe that there were threats and intimadation going on in many areas.Wake up and smell the coffee,That man put the fear in many store managers.