Burlington Furloughs Workers, CEO Forfeits Salary

Burlington Stores Inc. is furloughing its employees as the coronavirus’s damaging effect on retail extends to off-pricers.

The discount chain announced today that it would temporarily lay off the majority of its store and distribution center associates after providing two weeks’ pay during the closures of its outposts and facilities across the country.

Employees will continue to receive their benefits, and the company has established a hotline to help the impacted workers apply for government assistance offered by the recently passed economic stimulus package.

“The decision to furlough associates was extremely difficult, but it was necessary in order to protect the business during this unprecedented period of disruption,” CEO Michael O’Sullivan said. “We look forward to welcoming our associates back once we are able to reopen our stores and operations.”

Along with the announcement, Burlington said its CEO has forfeited his salary, while the company’s executive leadership team voluntarily agreed to cut their pay by half. Members of the board of directors will also forgo their cash compensation.

What’s more, incentive bonus payments and merit pay increases have been delayed to later in the fiscal year as the company wades through uncertainties related to COVID-19, which has sickened more than 557,500 people in the United States and killed at least 22,100.

Burlington previously said it has suspended its share buyback program and is managing capital by reducing capital expenditures and working closely with landlords on the timing of rent payments. It became the latest off-price chain, let alone retailer, to join the furlough fray: Over the weekend, rival TJX Companies Inc. furloughed most of its store and distribution center workers in the U.S. (TJX operates more than 4,300 stores with roughly 270,000 associates.)

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