Update: Lagging Sales Prompt Layoffs at Lillian Vernon

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Lillian Vernon became the latest victim of a slowing economy as the cataloger slashed its work force by 12 percent last week, laying off 40 people companywide.


The announcement comes after decreased consumer spending and a slowing economy resulted in a sales shortfall. The layoffs are part of the company's restructuring plan to streamline operations, control costs and reduce operating expenses, said David Hochberg, vice president of public affairs at Lillian Vernon, Rye, NY.


Lillian Vernon will consolidate its Las Vegas call center into its primary call center, located at its national distribution center in Virginia Beach, VA. In addition, other operating expenses and discretionary spending will be reduced in response to the downturn in consumer confidence, Hochberg said.


The cataloger made the announcement two weeks after women's apparel cataloger Coldwater Creek, Sandpoint, ID, announced an 8 percent staff reduction in response to lackluster early spring sales.


Coldwater Creek's decision followed the downturn in consumer spending, which caused the cataloger 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," said Georgia Shonk-Simmons, Coldwater Creek's CEO. "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."


The staff reductions affected 45 to 55 people at facilities in Sandpoint, ID; and Coeur d'Alene, ID; and Parkersburg, WV, bringing the staff to 1,930 people.


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