Today, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced it will be closing the downtown Long Beach Walmart on January 28, as part of a series of closures that will shut down 269 stores worldwide.
In a press announcement on its website, the chain states that the action followed a review of 11,600 stores, scrutinizing their financial performance, strategic alignment with long-term plans and other factors.
“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc in a statement. “Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future. It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year. So we are committed to growing, but we are being disciplined about it.”
The chain stated that 16,000 associates will be impacted by the closures, with 10,000 in the U.S. The company plans to move the employees it can to neighboring Walmarts that will remain open, as is the situation in Long Beach.
According to Mayor Robert Garcia, company execs have stated that 300 employees from the downtown Long Beach location will be offered jobs at other Walmarts in the region.
However, “where that isn’t possible, the company will provide 60 days of pay and, if eligible, severance, as well as resume and interview skills training,” the chain stated. Delia Garcia of Wal-Mart, Inc. said employees who have not received jobs in 60 days would receive 60 days' pay, and if they have not been placed in new jobs by then, they would receive a severance package equal to one week's pay for every year they worked for the company.
Meanwhile, in a tweet and official statement the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) said the group has already contacted Pacific Gateway to "activate their Rapid Response Team in order to assist with the 300 employees of the DTLB Walmart, as we did with the Fresh & Easy employees who were left jobless following its closure," and would be working with the property owner on the site's future development.
DTLB's Walmart is closing & we're working w/ property owner to ensure that the space becomes a destination that reflects our community best— Downtown Long Beach (@DLBA) January 15, 2016
Other California locations with stores closing include Hawaiian Gardens, Bell Gardens, Altadena, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Jose and Oakland.
A total of 154 of the stores set to close are located in the U.S., including their smaller format stores, Walmart Express, according to the release. Moving forward, the chain said they will instead focus on building their “Supercenters, optimizing Neighborhood Markets, growing the e-commerce business and expanding Pickup services for customers.”
Of the 115 stores set to close outside of the U.S., 60 are “loss-making” stores in Brazil, which represents five percent of the market.
Moving forward, the announcement stated the chain expects to open 50 to 60 Supercenters and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets in Fiscal 2017 (beginning February 1), in addition to Sam’s Club planning to open in seven to 10 new locations. Walmart plans to open 200 to 240 new stores internationally in the coming year.
Long Beach First District City Councilmember Lena Gonzalez confirmed the city would be working with the owner, mayor and community in developing the vacant space.
"The news is true [...] I will be working with Tony Shoshooni, owner of City Place, Mayor Robert Garcia and local downtown community members for ideas of a possible replacement for this loss," said Gonzalez. "According to Walmart, this store closure is one of 269 locations that are closing globally. Rest assured that the 300 employees will be offered jobs at nearby locations."
Long Beach's City Place released a statement stressing that the Walmart closure would not impact the "repurposing" and "repositioning" of City Place, which was announced last September.
"City Place Long Beach officials look forward to working with Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez and community representatives to bring businesses to the shopping center that reflects the changing Downtown," the release stated.
This story was updated at 10:53AM with the DLBA's official statement and tweet.
The story was updated at 2:58PM with statements from Councilmember Lena Gonzalez and City Place.
City News Service contributed to this report.