New Balance is eliminating dozens of jobs in its home state.
In a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act notice filed in Massachusetts this week, the footwear and apparel brand revealed that 63 employees at its Boston-based factory will be affected. The layoffs are effective Feb. 5 and are related to the closure of that factory, which is located in the same neighborhood as the company’s 250,000-square-foot headquarters.
“New Balance is focused on ensuring our business strategy, operations, and structure are aligned to advance our most critical growth priorities. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need to accelerate our ongoing organizational transformation, which has resulted in a U.S. workforce reduction impacting a small percentage of our U.S. associates,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to FN today. “We have made the difficult decision to close our Boston Factory in February 2021 as we align expansion of our domestic manufacturing initiatives with our business priorities and global consumer demand. We have fostered a fair and respectful process and will support impacted associates throughout the transition. New Balance remains fully committed to manufacturing athletic footwear in the U.S. with job and production increases planned across our other New England factories, including the opening of a new factory in Methuen, Mass., in summer 2021.”
In April, as the COVID-19 pandemic worked its way across the United States, New Balance said it made the “extremely difficult” decision to furlough a portion of its workforce, including store associates, factory workers and corporate employees. At the time, it had already temporarily shuttered the majority of its brick-and-mortar business in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe, and the outposts remained closed for another several weeks.
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Even as its business was impacted by the persistent health crisis over the past few months, New Balance continued to engage in philanthropic efforts. “New Balance allocated $2 million in grants through its namesake foundation to support local, regional and global communities. The funds went to multiple organizations, including No Kid Hungry, Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine and several others in its network of more than 60 grantees. Additionally, the athletic brand had begun developing its own face mask prototypes at its manufacturing facility in Lawrence, Mass.
The outbreak continues to decimate the U.S. labor force: Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 245,000 jobs were added in November, compared with economists’ expectations of a 440,000 gain. The retail sector was particularly hard-hit last month, losing 34,700 jobs. As Americans contend with another wave of the novel coronavirus, some states and municipalities have imposed renewed lockdowns, which have forced nonessential businesses to once again close their doors and put more employees out of work.
Over the past several months, nationwide chains and small businesses alike have resorted to layoffs in an attempt to preserve liquidity or reorganize amid a pandemic-induced new normal: Big-box retailer Walmart, apparel and accessories firm Express, fashion house Ralph Lauren and Neiman Marcus, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, are among the companies that have moved ahead with job cuts.