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Express Cuts Jobs at Headquarters and NYC Studio, Store Closings Could Be Next

Specialty apparel retail chain Express Inc. is eliminating 10 percent of its workforce through a combination of cuts at its corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio and at a New York City design studio.

The headcount reduction is part of a restructuring to keep Express’s workforce aligned with the company’s go-forward corporate strategy.

“When I joined Express, I outlines three priorities: changing the trajectory of the business, developing a corporate strategy, and putting together the right team in place,” said Tim Baxter, who joined Express as CEO in June 2019.

“We have spent the past six months developing a strategy with the intent to return Express to long-term growth and a mid-single digit operating margin,” Baxter said. “Today we took the necessary steps to put the right organization in place to support that strategy.”

Express is also reorganizing its field leadership team to “ensure the stores are operating in the most efficient manner while enhancing the level of service offered to Express customers.”

Full details of the new corporate strategy and cost savings are expected to be disclosed at the company’s investor event next Wednesday. A store fleet rationalization plan is also expected to be disclosed during the investor event, the company said when it posted third-quarter earnings results on Dec. 5.

The earnings report showed a net loss of $3.1 million, or 5 cents a diluted share, on sales of $488.5 million. That compared with net income of $8.0 million, or 11 cents, a year ago on sales of $515 million.

Those results showed that the “immediate changes we have been able to make to our product, merchandising and marketing approach” appeared to be resonating with customers, Baxter said at the time. His plan is to return the company to a “mid-single-digit operating margin over time.”

Express has been struggling for some time to find a retail strategy that matches its customer base. Citing its poor financial performance, some credit analysts are keeping close tabs on the chain.

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