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Chico’s cuts 180 jobs at Fort Myers headquarters

By Staff | Jan 30, 2009

Chico’s FAS Inc. is trimming up.
The company will cut about 180 jobs, or about 11 percent of its work force, at its headquarters office in Fort Myers.
The cuts will reduce payroll and benefit expenses by about $15 million over the next year, the company said in a prepared statement Thursday.
The reductions will increase the company’s targeted expense savings goal for 2009 from $25 million to somewhere in the range of $35 million to $40 million.
Chico’s, which like other retailers is struggling to make sales in a bad economy, also announced it would recognize impairment charges in the range of $11 million to $14 million for the fourth quarter related to its underperforming stores.
“Chico’s FAS has tremendous potential and a bright future, but like the rest of the industry, faces the challenges of one of the toughest economic environments in recent retailing industry,” said David Dyer, president and chief executive officer, in a statement.
“Accordingly, it is more critical than ever for us to operate as efficiently as possible, while taking every measure to preserve and build upon the great customer loyalty our brands enjoy and the ability to implement fresh ideas and new product offerings that will help us improve performance,” he said.
The reductions are immediate. The company expects to record an after-tax charge of $2.9 million in the first quarter ending Saturday to cover personnel separation costs.
The company warned that it might eventually close as many as 25 stores. It is currently doing an analysis of store performance.
Chico’s operates 1,076 women’s specialty stores in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The company has three brands that it operates under: Chico’s, White House/Black Market and Soma Intimates.

Staff report by the Naples Daily News.