Cataloger Coldwater Creek Cuts 160 Workers

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Coldwater Creek will cut its staff by 8 percent -- or 160 people -- in response to lackluster early spring sales, the company said yesterday.

The move came more than a week after the women's apparel cataloger reported a downturn in consumer spending, which caused the Sandpoint, ID, firm to revise its expectations.

"Following our robust sales performance over the last 12 months, we entered the important January-February spring selling season with anticipation of continued strong sales activity and staffed our call centers and distribution centers accordingly," CEO Georgia Shonk-Simmons said in a statement.

"Quite simply, those early spring sales did not happen this year, and we are adjusting our staff size to a more efficient base to reflect the change in full-price sales."

Nonessential employees were hit with elimination notices yesterday morning, company spokesman David Gunter said.

The staff reduction will affect employees at the cataloger's Idaho and West Virginia facilities. Reductions will affect 45 to 55 people at each of three locations in Sandpoint; Coeur d'Alene, ID; and Parkersburg, WV, bringing the staff down to 1,930 people.

"The impact was felt primarily in our catalog channel, especially in our NorthCountry catalog, which is our core catalog," Gunter said. "After 12 months of a very strong sales trend at full price, we had staffed in anticipation of equally strong sales in January and February -- but that didn't happen."

Along with staff reductions, the company also will limit discretionary spending as it monitors national economic conditions, Gunter said, adding that the company has put a freeze on new hires, nonessential travel and internal expenditures. If the company does not have to spend money, it will not, he said.

Gunter said the company's four titles -- NorthCountry, Spirit of the West, Natural Elements and Coldwater Creek Home -- would not be affected by the reductions. However, the company is moving forward with plans to open 10 to 15 retail stores across the country this year. The cataloger currently has 10 shops.

"Our retail stores have not been impacted," Gunter said. "The stores are performing well and they are an incredibly good brand-building tool for us."


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