Payless employees brace for deep layoffs as company evaluates structure

Payless ShoeSource, headquartered at 3231 S.E. 6th Ave., will take “additional steps” to make sure the company stays on target for sustainable growth, a spokeswoman said. Multiple sources told The Capital-Journal that one of those steps may be a significant workforce downsizing to occur this week. (April 2017 file photo/The Capital-Journal)

As Payless Shoesource evaluates its structure and prepares to take “additional steps,” employees are bracing for another round of layoffs that could come as early as this week.

 

Multiple employees have told The Topeka Capital-Journal the company has planned layoffs, but it wasn’t immediately clear how deep the cuts would go. Employees said they fear the company will lay off as much as 40 percent of the workforce.

Payless spokeswoman Meghan Spreer responded to questions about whether significant layoffs would occur this week by saying the company is evaluating its structure “as part of the ordinary course of business.”

“Although Payless emerged from Chapter 11 with a strong foundation,” Spreer said in a statement, “given the changing retail environment there are additional steps that must be taken to position our business model to create sustainable growth, ensuring the customer is at the forefront of everything we do and enabling us to take full advantage of our competitive strengths in North America, online, and around the world.”

Payless filed for bankruptcy in April and emerged just four months later after nearly halving its debt load and closing about 20 percent of its retail stores.

Barbara Stapleton, vice president of workforce and education for GO Topeka, said many existing Topeka businesses are growing and expanding, and she is hopeful Payless employees will choose to stay in the Topeka market.

“Payless is an important part of Topeka, and we are always concerned to hear about changes that may affect many of our community members,” she said. “Changes are difficult for everyone involved, and we at GO Topeka remain committed to assisting those affected.”

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