Wayfair, the online furniture and home goods retailer struggling with shrinking sales, will not renew its lease in May at Brunswick Landing, where it is the largest tenant.
“Our Brunswick facility closed its operations earlier this month and this team has joined our virtual customer service team,” Susan Frechette, a Wayfair spokesperson, said. “We remain committed to our local communities, including Brunswick.”
The company is not extending leases as a number of customer service locations because more employees have transitioned to remote work, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and cost-saving efforts, she said.
Most of the 150 Mainers who remain at the company have been working from home for some time now, said Sally Costello, Brunswick’s director of economic and community development. She recently learned from the landlord that the company won’t renew its lease.
It is not clear whether any of those 150 remaining jobs in Brunswick are at risk, nor how many of the workers actually live in Brunswick, Costello said.
When it moved into Maine in 2016, the Boston-based company said it planned to eventually hire 1,000 employees. The company got up to about 600 in Bangor and Brunswick before it started losing employees as the market for its goods softened in recent years.
The news follows Wayfair’s Friday announcement that it would cut 1,750 people from its global workforce, or about 10 percent, but it did not specify how Maine operations would be affected. As of Monday, the company has not filed a WARN notice of potential layoffs in Maine.
“We aren’t sharing specific details per location, but the vast majority are part of the corporate team in North America and Europe,” Frechette said.
In a memo to employees Friday, Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah said that in North America, “all employees will receive an email shortly that will let you know if your role is impacted.”
Shah said severance will be based on each worker’s circumstances. As an example, he said in the U.S., employees will receive a minimum of 10 weeks pay from Friday and have continued benefit coverage and vesting of existing equity through March 2023.
Wayfair has been reducing its Maine footprint since February 2020, when it laid off 55 people from its contact center in Brunswick and one from its contact center in Bangor. In 2021, Wayfair made a similar move out of the Bangor building that had hosted its customer service center for five years, saying its employees had been working from their homes since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020.
The belt-tightening comes amid pressures in the retail industry. Sears announced in December that the last two Hometown Stores in Maine would close. A recent Deloitte industry outlook said that a slowing economy will dampen retail because inflation has decreased consumer buying power.
This is the second set of layoffs in five months for the publicly traded Wayfair. The last layoffs last August involved 870 jobs globally as the retailer tried to cut back operating expenses and realign its investments.
The August layoffs were part of a total of more than $1.4 billion in planned annualized cost reductions. The company said it expects to return to break even in early 2023 because of the reductions.