Spiegel to close call center, lay off 670

With sales down, The Spiegel Group announced on March 13 that it will close its Wichita, KS, call center on May 17, laying off 670 workers. The cataloger will continue to operate its call centers in Rapid City, SD; Hampton, VA; Bothell, WA; and St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Downers Grove, IL-based Spiegel chose to close the Wichita center in part because it handles only order-taking, says spokesperson Debbie Koopman. “It wasn’t any one factor,” Koopman says. “When you do an analysis and look at the various functions, you look to see where it’s easiest to transition the functions to the other facilities.”

In December, the $2.78 billion cataloger/retailer had laid off 95 workers from its Spiegel Group Telesales unit. Those layoffs had affected workers in all of Spiegel’s facilities except the one in St. John, which had opened last May.

At the time Spiegel had hoped to rehire most, if not all, of the laid-off employees by mid-January, which was when the spring business for its Newport News apparel title typically picked up. But so far the company isn’t seeing much of a rebound. Newport News’s February sales were down 16% from last year’s; sales from the company’s Eddie Bauer catalog/retail unit were down 13%, and sales at the Spiegel catalog were down 10%.

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