Nordstrom Makes More Cuts

Cutbacks continue to hit Nordstrom Inc.

After disclosing in late March that it was pulling out of Canada entirely, the Seattle-based retailer has begun laying off workers within its technology operations.

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“As we continue to invest in technology as a critical area of our business, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our technology workforce, adjusting the team structure and eliminating certain roles to remain agile and operate more efficiently,” a spokesperson said Monday. “We are committed to treating impacted team members with respect and supporting them through this transition.”

Nordstrom did not respond to inquiries on how many individuals would lose their jobs, or whether there would be cutbacks coming in additional areas of the business.

The company has been recently impacted by steeper markdowns, sluggish sales results, bloated inventories and macroeconomic headwinds, and for the fourth quarter, reported declines on the both the top and bottom lines. However, the team has been working hard to reduce inventories, and has a new strategy to bolster its Rack off-price operation by aggressively opening stores, and finessing the merchandise to represent more of the brands that sell best at the full-line Nordstrom department stores.

Ironically, on the same day that Nordstrom publicly confirmed the tech layoffs, its new chief technology and information officer Jason Morris officially started his new job. However, Nordstrom during the week of April 17 did internally announce the layoffs to its workforce.

As previously reported by WWD, Morris has more than 25 years of technology experience in the retail industry and joins Nordstrom from Walmart, where he most recently led global enterprise technology as senior vice president of enterprise business services. At Nordstrom, Morris will oversee the company’s technology functions, including engineering and data science and analytics.

One big tech project for Nordstrom is to roll out radio frequency identification corporate-wide this year, to better track and replenish merchandise. Also, the company has been working to improve data technologies to deepen its understanding of customers and reflect that back in communications and services for shoppers. Other opportunities for Nordstrom involve piloting and possibly embracing more virtual and augmented reality technologies, and providing richer content on its website and app.

In Canada, about 2,500 Nordstrom workers will lose their jobs as the six Nordstrom department stores and seven Rack stores in the country shut down. The wind-down will result in a loss of about $400 million in sales, and a $35 million improvement in earnings before interest and taxes this year, excluding the $300 million to $350 million in charges this quarter expected from closing the Canadian operations.

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