Retail chain Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is executing store closures around Southern California and in other parts of the country, in a bid to help the business stay viable. This part of a larger global effort to optimize the assets that the company holds. Wal-Mart has plans to shut a total of 269 of their locations in countries around the world where they currently have operations.
Southern California to see seven stores close down
The value retail giant downed its shutters at locations in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza as well as at Chinatown’s West Cesar Chavez Avenue, on Sunday. While the former was a Superstore, the other was in their Neighborhood Market category. A total of 153 stores across the country are set to close for good, or have already stopped business as this is published. Locations in Long Beach, Bell Gardens, Hawaiian Gardens, San Bernardino and Altadena will be closed on Jan 28.
Wal-Mart heads in for major corporate restructuring
Defending the company’s radical move, President and CEO Doug McMillon said that this was an essential move to keep the business healthy.
The announcement on Friday also highlighted the fact that most store closures were occurring in areas where another Wal-Mart location was within a 10 mile radius. As such, it is expected that many who lost their jobs as a result of store closures, will find employment at the other stores. Of the 16,000 displaced employees, those who do not find a place in alternate Wal-Mart locations by Feb 10, will be given 60 days of pay as compensation. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman also said that those failing to secure new jobs during the 60 days window would receive a severance package totaling a week’s pay for each year they had been with the company.
In the meantime, McMillon also spoke of the measured growth that the chain had planned, with about 300 new store locations opening in the year ahead.
Discount retailer draws criticism from locals
The move by the discount retailer has drawn brickbats from the communities they operate in, as well as commentators on social media. Community leaders in the Los Angeles region have criticized the ease with which Wal-Mart seems to have taken a decision to simply shut shop, leaving employees and hundreds of residents in the neighborhood served by the stores, in the lurch.
The Baldwin Hills store opened back in 2003 and has come to be an integral part of the community. The Chinatown store though more recent, having opened in 2013, will still be sorely missed as the store’s opening had marked the culmination of a 25 year wait for the community to be served by a full service grocery store.