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Caleres lays off hundreds at its Clayton headquarters

"Assuming that business conditions improve, however, the company is hopeful that the actions it is taking are temporary"
Credit: SLBJ

CLAYTON, Mo. — Caleres Inc., the global footwear company and retailer, has laid off 368 workers, including a large call center staff, at its Clayton headquarters due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The lay offs at the 8300 Maryland Ave. offices occurred March 28 and 29, and are expected to be temporary, the company said in a letter dated April 2 and received Wednesday by the state Office of Workforce Development.

Caleres (NYSE: CAL) filed a notice with the state under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act as a result of "the unforeseeable, dramatic changes caused by COVID-19 and the resulting federal and state emergencies," the letter states.

None of the affected workers have so-called bumping rights, to displace more junior employees, and none are represented by a union, the company said.

A listing of the laid-off employees' job titles presented to the state indicates 48 are consumer care call agents; 15 are specialists, merchandise allocation; and 11 are specialists, planning, footwear. Other job titles with multiple layoffs include account executive, associate designer, developer, manager of assortment and business planning, and representative of order management. The titles of those laid off reflect departments from accounting to marketing, and IT to legal.

"Assuming that business conditions improve, however, the Company is hopeful that the actions it is taking are temporary and that some or all of these employees will be able to return to work in the future," Caleres said in the letter. 

The company wrote that it decided to furlough the employees as a result of COVID-19, "including a sudden and unpredictable impact on the company's sales and operations." This included, among other factors, a national state of emergency, a statewide emergency followed by a city of St. Louis and St. Louis County "shelter in place" order, the "abrupt" closure of its more than 1,000 retail stores, as well as similar closures of its top wholesale partner's stores and operations." 

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