B&N strives for — what?
(Sarah asked me to fill-in this morning. She’ll return with her workshop next week.)
The age of the big box bookstores is waning. That’s nothing new. The proverbial writing has been on the wall for years, since before Borders shuttered its last store. Barnes & Noble continues to fight for survival and relevancy in the changing environment publishing finds itself in. Unfortunately for readers and for BN’s employees, the company’s leaders seem hell-bent on doing everything they can to short-circuit those efforts.
It’s well-known 2017’s holiday sales season wasn’t kind to B&N. Same store sales were down more than 6% and online sales were down 4.5%. This at a time when other retailers saw strong holiday sales. This was also after the retailer said in November “it would pivot to books and rely more on trusted human booksellers to bounce back from meh performance.” Apparently, that isn’t working — or at least not fast enough to satisfy the powers-that-be. So, new steps have been taken in an attempt to save the company.
B&N announced it will begin laying off employees in a move that “will save the company $40 million annually.” Think about that for a moment. How many employees will be impacted and how will that impact the customer experience, both online and in the store? It’s not surprising B&N isn’t giving any numbers about how many employees will be let go. The one thing it has said is that this will result in a “new labor model” for their stores.
So, who’s being fired — sorry, let go?
At the time of the announcement, the layoffs were for lead cashiers and digital leads. In other words, employees with at least some seniority. It is also reasonable to assume these were also full-time employees, those B&N was on the hook for benefits as well as salary. Hmmm, are we seeing a possible answer to our question about who might be laid off?
We get at least some confirmation from Boise, Idaho. A B&N store there saw several full-time employees being laid off. FULL-TIME employees. Yep, that’s a way to cut costs. Move most of your staff to part-time, where you aren’t required to pay benefits, etc., and where they have no incentive to stay with the company. How’s that supposed to play with the goal of being able to “rely more on trusted human booksellers”?
As the Passive Guy suggests, “We’re firing our way to success!” is a long-standing management strategy with a rich history of failure.