CHARLOTTE, NC (The Charlotte Observer) - Lowe’s is making major changes in its Charlotte-area workforce that involve cutting hundreds of jobs and relocating hundreds more.
On Thursday morning, roughly 600 full-time employees at the Lowe’s corporate offices in Wilkesboro were informed that their jobs would be shifting to the retailer’s headquarters in Mooresville, about an hour away. About another 80 Wilkesboro-based tech jobs will be moved to the Lowe’s data center in Winston-Salem, according to Dan Frahm, Lowe’s vice president of communications.
Twelve other Wilkesboro-based jobs are being cut, and their work will be absorbed by positions in Mooresville, Frahm said.
Separate from the corporate relocations, Lowe’s is laying off 207 full-time workers at a Charlotte facility called a cross-dock terminal as the company moves the work to a third-party vendor in May. Located on David Cox Road in North Charlotte, the cross-dock terminal is a warehouse where workers stage appliances and other large bulky items like patio furniture.
The terminal will remain open and continue as a delivery hub for large and bulky items such as appliances, supporting Lowe’s stores in the Charlotte region, Frahm said. Lowe’s has similarly transitioned to third-party vendors at its cross-dock terminals in Houston and Charleston. Frahm said the company will try to find other work for the Charlotte employees losing their jobs.
Using cross-dock terminals to store and stage large items frees up space in stores, Lowe’s has said.
“Today, big, bulky products such as appliances are stocked in our stores. However, most customers don’t take the product with them after purchasing it,” Don Frieson, executive vice president of Lowe’s supply Chain, said at the company’s analyst and investor conference in December.
The jobs moving from Wilkesboro to Charlotte are in several departments, including supply chain, finance and human resources.
Lowe’s is encouraging Wilkesboro workers to transfer and will offer relocation assistance to certain employees, Frahm said. The goal is to start the moves in June, and have the relocated team working from Mooresville by the end of the year, he added.
Lowe’s will offer severance for Wilkesboro workers who opt not to relocate, Frahm said.
The relocation of hundreds of jobs does not mean that Lowe’s is winding down its corporate operations in Wilkesboro, where the first Lowe’s store opened in the 1920s. Wilkesboro is also where Lowe’s was previously headquartered until the company moved to a new corporate campus in Mooresville in 2003.
Lowe’s will maintain its contact center and central production office in Wilkesboro, where the company will employ roughly 1,300 people by the time it relocates workers, Frahm said. The Mooresville offices will employ about 4,400 after the moves.
The relocation of hundreds of jobs out of Wilkesboro to other Lowe’s corporate offices is intended to improve “the collaboration and effectiveness of our corporate functions by having these teams work side by side,” Frahm said.
At 1.3 million square feet, the Mooresville campus has the capacity to accommodate the addition of 600 jobs, Frahm said, although “it may get harder to find parking.”
The job cuts and relocations come amid a transformation of Lowe’s spearheaded by Marvin Ellison, who took over as CEO in July.
Ellison has worked to improve the company’s financial health through focusing on what he calls “retail fundamentals.” Under Ellison, the company hired several retail veterans to its executive leadership team, closed dozens of stores, discontinued business units that weren’t working and recently began a revamp of stores.
Lowe’s has made other workforce changes in recent months, too.
As part of a transformation for how it operates its stores nationwide, for instance, the company announced a major restructuring in January that involves adding and slashing jobs, including the project specialist interiors role.
And in December, Lowe’s said it will be hiring roughly 2,000 software engineers over the next few years as the company works to modernize its digital capabilities.