Lowe’s announces a major restructuring that involves adding and slashing jobs

Find out steps Lowe's has taken to change its course

MOORESVILLE, NC (Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Observer) - As part of a transformation for how it operates its stores, Lowe’s announced a major restructuring of its workforce on Friday. The net impact on the company’s total employee count isn’t clear, however.

In a statement, Lowe’s said it is discontinuing its project specialist interiors program, which employs workers responsible for overseeing every phase of complex home projects such as kitchen remodels. But the company would not say how many people the program employs.

Eliminating the program next month is intended to help Lowe’s “simplify our operations to better meet customer expectations,” spokeswoman Jackie Pardini Hartzell told the Observer.

In many cases, the current program didn’t meet company or customer expectations, she added. The employees in that program can apply for jobs elsewhere at Lowe’s, the company said.

Lowe’s will still have workers responsible for managing simpler interior installations, such as cabinets or floorings. It’ll also maintain its project specialist exteriors program, which supports customers in work such as roofing, siding and fencing.

Also as part of its overhaul, Lowe’s said it will be hiring 10,000 permanent, full-time workers as part of a merchandising service team focused on inventory management. The team will have an average of eight employees per U.S. store, the company said.

The Mooresville-based home improvement retailer also will be hiring 6,000 full-time assistant store manager and department supervisor roles at all of its U.S. stores.

The recent hires are on top of the roughly 50,000 seasonal positions that Lowe’s will be hiring for starting in mid-January, the company said.

“We are sharpening our focus on retail fundamentals and simplifying our business,” CEO Marvin Ellison said in the statement.

“We are investing in key leadership positions across our stores to enhance customer service while also creating jobs that will improve the availability of our most popular products, transform our technology infrastructure and provide more access for customers to the home improvement expertise of our store associates,” he stated.

Lowe’s employs over 310,000 people across North America. Leaders hope the overhaul will help the Mooresville retailer catch up with its larger rival, Atlanta-based Home Depot.

For instance, Lowe’s will be hiring roughly 2,000 software engineers over the next few years as the company works to modernize its digital capabilities, Lowe’s said last month. Pardini Hartzell said that as part of that effort, Lowe’s will be taking on about 500 engineers this year.

Lowe’s, which in recent years has cut costs through layoffs at the store level and at its headquarters, has undergone significant changes in the past year. Ellison, former CEO of J.C. Penney, took the helm at Lowe’s in July. Within a few days, he announced a major shakeup of Lowe’s top leadership by eliminating certain high-profile positions such as the chief operating officer.

Lowe’s announced plans in August to close its Orchard Supply Hardware chain, which it bought in 2013, to focus on its main home-improvement business. And in November, Lowe’s said it would close nearly 50 under-performing stores across North America to focus on its most profitable locations.

Lowe’s operates 2,240 home improvement and hardware stores.