January 10, 2017, 3:41 PM

Job cuts may be pending at Wal-Mart this month

Hundreds of workers face layoffs as Wal-Mart looks to shrink some costs.

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(Bloomberg)—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is making another round of job cuts as part of CEO Doug McMillon’s efforts to streamline operations, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The move will eliminate hundreds of positions this month, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn’t public. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the layoffs, saying they would fall particularly hard on the human-resources department, which some executives feel should be outsourced.

Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, has been looking for ways to slim down its operations at a time of increasing e-commerce spending and rising wages for employees. In late 2015, Wal-Mart eliminated hundreds of headquarters positions, followed by a relocation of 7,000 back-office accounting positions that was announced in September. Wal-Mart employs about 2.3 million people worldwide.

“We need to manage expenses even better, which includes changing how we do work inside the company,” McMillon told investors in October. “We have a lot of conversations these days about priorities.”

Though Wal-Mart’s job cuts represent a tiny fraction of its workforce, retail layoffs have become a bigger concern following a mixed holiday season. Macy’s Inc. (No. 6 in the Top 500) announced plans last week to cut about 6,200 jobs and push ahead with a plan to shutter roughly 100 stores. Altogether, that effort will eliminate about 10,000 workers.

At Wal-Mart, management has also been shaking up the company’s Sam’s Club warehouse division. It elevated merchandising chief John Furner to CEO of the division as it struggles to keep pace with rival Costco Wholesale Corp.

In the e-commerce arena, Wal-Mart acquired Jet.com for about $3.3 billion last year, marking the retailer’s strongest bid yet to compete with market leader Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1). Last week, Wal-Mart announced the acquisition of ShoeBuy.com for $70 million. The deal will help Wal-Mart’s Jet challenge Zappos.com, Amazon’s footwear site.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based company is coming off a third quarter marked by disappointing sales growth, though e-commerce orders did show signs of picking up. Wal-Mart reports its fiscal fourth-quarter results in February.

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