528747 KS-RECESSION

Hayneedle has recently employed almost 700 workers in Omaha. Its corporate office is near 90th Street and West Dodge Road.

Online retailer Hayneedle is laying off 239 workers in Omaha as part of a restructuring, company officials said Thursday.

The jobs being eliminated are in the Omaha-based company’s corporate office as well as its call center, and they represent a sizable portion of Hayneedle’s workforce in the city. The company has recently employed nearly 700 workers in Omaha at three sites, including its corporate office near 90th Street and West Dodge Road.

According to the Nebraska Department of Labor's layoff notification web site, 180 workers were in the firm's call center in Sarpy County and 59 in its headquarters building. 

“This is a difficult decision in a business, and we’re focused on taking care of the people who are affected,” said Tiffany Wilson, a spokesperson for Hayneedle’s parent company, Walmart. “And we remain committed to our hometown of Omaha and our vision to be the best specialty online home retailer.”

Hayneedle was founded in Omaha in 2002 merely selling hammocks online. But it expanded into a wide range of home furnishings and housewares, posting sales in 2016 of more than $500 million.

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The company is now an affiliate of Walmart, having been bought by another online retailer in 2016 that was subsequently purchased by Walmart. But Hayneedle has continued to operate as an independent business unit with its own president.

Wilson, the director of communications for Walmart, said that the layoffs in Omaha on Thursday were due to changes specific to the Hayneedle brand and that the decisions were made at the Hayneedle level.

“This was not a Walmart decision; it was a decision made by Hayneedle,” she said.

Wilson said both companies do share the same approach of evaluating strategy, structure and operating costs to find ways to grow. Hayneedle, she said, decided to invest in some new areas, create new roles and restructure in ways that help the company “move faster.”

Hayneedle’s parent company has been known for paying close attention to costs. Walmart uses a zero-based budgeting strategy, asking managers to justify costs regardless of previous spending levels.

Workers said they began being notified of the layoffs with 9 a.m. phone calls and group meetings. Some workers were terminated immediately, while others will still have jobs until May 17.

Hayneedle is offering assistance to the workers who lost their jobs, Wilson said.

Each worker will get a 60-day paid period to search for new work. If they do not find work in that time, they may be eligible for severance based on years of service. Employees are also being offered help in finding new work inside or outside the company.

Reporter - Metro News

Henry is a general assignment reporter, but his specialty is deep dives into state issues and public policy. He's also into the numbers behind a story, yet to meet a spreadsheet he didn't like. Follow him on Twitter @HenryCordes. Phone: 402-444-1130.

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