DSW Layoffs Hit Customer Service Facility in Home Base of Ohio

DSW is laying off nearly a hundred workers in its home city of Columbus, Ohio.

According to a WARN notice filed this week with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, approximately 92 employees at the retailer’s facility located at 4150 E. Fifth Ave. will be impacted as it restructures its customer service functions at the site. The terminations are expected to occur on or around March 27.

In an email to FN, a spokesperson for the company said the shoe chain would be “transitioning most” of its customer service representatives to a third-party contact center to “maintain [parent company] Designer Brands Inc.’s long-term fiscal health.” The spokesperson added that DSW was currently working to place impacted employees in roles at its Columbus-area stores or distribution centers.

“COVID-19 continues to have an immense adverse impact on the retail industry, affecting consumer demand, shopping behaviors and other key business aspects. These changes have forced us to make difficult decisions,” the spokesperson said. “We are making every effort to handle this transition thoughtfully and with a priority of treating impacted associates with care and respect.”

DSW continues to reorganize as it navigates business in pandemic times. Last year in July, Designer Brands announced that it would let go more than 1,000 workers, representing 8% of the company’s North American associate positions. It anticipated savings of about $40 million each year as a result of the terminations. Amid the broader acceleration of e-commerce, CEO Roger Rawlins at the time said that the move would involve “adjusting” the store management team to take more people off the floor and move them into warehouse roles.

In mid-December, Designer Brands doubled down on the importance of digital: Its top leaders announced at conference call with analysts that DSW could permanently shut down 10% to 15% of its brick-and-mortar fleet as the COVID-19 health crisis continues to drive shoppers online. It plans to retain “a physical presence in most geographic markets.” (The chain currently has 524 units in the United States and 145 locations in Canada.)

For the three months ended Oct. 31, Designer Brands posted an adjusted net loss of $19 million, or a loss of 26 cents per share, compared with the prior year’s profits of $48.5 million, or earnings of 67 cents per share. Revenues fell 30.1% to $652.9 million. Still, it beat analysts’ expectations for a loss of 48 cents per share and revenues of $650.63 million.

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