The world’s largest retailer Walmart has handed pink slips to 56 employees at its India corporate office located in Gurugram, it said on Monday, as slowing consumer spends force retail companies to rejig operations. The employees laid off included eight senior executives and 48 mid and junior executives, Walmart India’s President and Chief Executive Officer Krish Iyer said, representing 1 per cent of its total workforce of 5,391 people in the country.
“We are committed to growing our B2B cash and carry business in India. We opened six stores and one fulfilment centre in 2019 and our sales grew 22 per cent during the year. We are also looking for ways to operate more efficiently, which requires us to review our corporate structure from time to time. As part of this, we have let go of 56 associates across levels,” he said.
The employees laid off include those in real estate and sourcing, industry sources said, as Walmart increasingly focuses on its online operations in India. In 2018, Bentonville, Arkansas-based company had acquired a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for $16 billion, making it the largest purchase of an e-commerce firm in the world by a player.
Since then, Walmart has been consolidating Flipkart's operations and getting into newer areas such as grocery and food retail in a bid to go beyond electronics, fashion and lifestyle for which the Bengaluru-based e-tailer is largely known. The move is also intended to help Flipkart fight rival Amazon, which has been investing heavily across segments in the country.
Iyer clarified on Monday that there were no further lay-offs on the cards at the company and that it would add stores in the current calendar year, starting with Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.
Walmart, which began its cash and carry operations in 2007 under a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises, has a total of 28 stores under the ‘Best Price’ brand and three fulfilment centres in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow. The JV was dissolved in 2013 after Walmart bought Bharti’s stake in the firm.
Iyer said no store or fulfilment centre would shut down in the future and that the company remained committed to expanding its footprint beyond the nine states it currently operated in.
“We have recently made investments in India and will continue to do so. This includes investments in our brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce. We are investing heavily in technology and have a healthy pipeline of Best Price stores,” he said.