Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is preparing to cut nearly 1,000 corporate jobs before the end of the month, according to an executive familiar with the situation, as the world's biggest retailer works to cut costs and shift its focus to e-commerce.
It plans to eliminate the jobs before the end of its fiscal year on Jan. 31, the person said. The cuts will fall broadly but are expected to focus on Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, including the human resources department, as well as the technology and e-commerce divisions.
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The plans mark one of Wal-Mart's largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors.
"We are always looking for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively," said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Hitt. "While we continually look at our corporate structure, we have not made any announcements."
Many of the cuts will affect Wal-Mart's human resources department, a large team that some senior executives believe should be leaner or whose duties could be handled by outside consultants, say other people familiar with the plans. Wal-Mart's chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will leave the company on Feb. 24, Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in a memo to staff Tuesday. The company didn't name a successor or Ms. Terrell's future plans.
In late 2015 Wal-Mart laid off hundreds of workers at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. In September, it cut about 7,000 back-office jobs in its stores, automating some tasks by adding cash recyclers that count money.
"We need to manage expenses even better, which includes changing how we do work inside the company," Mr. McMillon said during an investor presentation in October. Wal-Mart has predicted that per-share adjusted earnings in fiscal 2018 will be flat compared with fiscal 2017, then fall at the low end of its 2019 target of 5% to 10% growth.
Other retailers have recently moved to slash jobs and close stores as they battle sluggish sales and try to save money to invest in their e-commerce efforts. Last week, Macy's Inc. said it would close stores, cutting 10,000 jobs and streamlining operations.
Wal-Mart closed more than 150 U.S. stores last January, then in October said new-store openings would slow, but hasn't announced plans for another round of large-scale closures.
In late 2015, Wal-Mart hired Jacqui Canney, an executive who had spent decades with Accenture Ltd., to lead its human-resources department. Some employees in the department have been told to find other jobs internally or externally by the end of the month, said one of the people familiar with the situation.
Wal-Mart employees roughly 18,000 Bentonville-based staff. But the series of reductions show how the retailer is working to maintain profits at a time of change in the industry.
Wal-Mart has spent heavily over the past two years to fend off Amazon.com Inc. and smaller, fast-growing discounters like Aldi. In the investor presentation last fall, executives said Wal-Mart would steer more of its $11 billion in annual budget toward boosting e-commerce sales, technology used in stores and on customer services. In September, Wal-Mart spent $3.3 billion to purchase Jet.com Inc., an unprofitable e-commerce startup.
"We have a plan to win with customers and drive growth. We will be disciplined with our cost and capital as we do it," said Mr. McMillon during the presentation.
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