RadioShack begins layoffs at Fort Worth headquarters

Posted Thursday, Sep. 06, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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RadioShack laid off workers at its corporate headquarters on Thursday morning as the company continues to reduce costs following a second-quarter loss.

The Fort Worth-based consumer electronics retailer declined to say how many workers were let go — “out of respect for the individuals involved,” spokesman Eric Bruner said in an email. He said the job cuts were mostly concentrated at the riverfront headquarters, where the company said earlier this year it had about 1,200 workers.

In a letter to employees, CEO Jim Gooch said that a number of employees had been laid off across a broad range of levels throughout the company. He cited challenging results and the need to align expenses with the current levels of business.

“Assessing headcount is a necessary component of the process in effectively managing our expenses,” Gooch explained. Terminated workers were given severance packages and access to job-search services, he said.

RadioShack stock (ticker: RSH) rose 4.4 percent to finish at $2.84 during an up day on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock traded at $11.72 a year ago. On July 25, the retailer reported a $21 million quarterly loss, compared to a $24.9 million profit during the same period of 2011, and suspended its quarterly dividend. Comparable store sales — at stores open at least a year, an industry benchmark — were flat while mobile sales were up 3.3 percent.

On an upbeat note, the CEO told employees: “As we collectively face the challenges ahead, you should be enthusiastic about our potential. Acting decisively now with regard to expenses puts us in a stronger position to focus on executing key business initiatives that build for our future as an iconic American retail brand.

“We have an exciting line-up of new products on tap, and all of us need to focus on managing 2012 holiday plans and plans for 2013 with a sense of urgency,” he added.

Unlike in 2006, when RadioShack got a massive public relations black-eye by breaking the bad news of layoffs to 400 employees by e-mail, each affected employee was informed on Thursday by a supervisor. Workers were then escorted by a work group leader to the parking garage where they were accompanied to their car by a private security guard.

They passed eager students with backpacks headed toward classes at Tarrant County College, which shares the downtown campus with RadioShack.

The dismissed workers carried little — a coffee mug or an open tote bag with a black vinyl planner sticking out.

Some workers were silent. Others smiled as they were greeted by janitorial crew or co-workers, insisting they were OK. “For the most part, the mood was somber,” said James Metz, 38, of Crowley, who was among those laid off.

As he drove from the building, Metz said he had worked in information technology at RadioShack for less than a year. The layoff didn’t come as a complete surprise because of last quarter’s results.

“They handled it pretty professionally,” he said of the manner in which he was told. “They had their ducks in a row.”

Metz, who coached basketball and football part-time until he got too busy at RadioShack, said he plans to finish a teaching degree and return to coaching, hopefully as a career. He and his wife, who has a part-time job at the Crowley rec center and conducts fitness classes on the side, have four children under the age 15. Thursday was his 11-year-old’s birthday.

It was Metz’s second layoff as an IT worker. Before RadioShack, he worked for Avaya Inc., a business communications company which he had joined in 1996 following his discharge from the Air Force. His Avaya job, involving help-desk software, was outsourced to Argentina.

“I’ll probably get out of the computer business,” Metz added.

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

Twitter: @bshlachter

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