Coronavirus impact

DFW-based home goods retailer furloughs two-thirds of corporate staff amid COVID-19

DFW-based home goods retailer furloughs two-thirds of corporate staff

Pier 1 Imports
Pier 1 is still open for business online. Facebook/Pier1

A little over a month after filing for bankruptcy, Fort Worth-based home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports has temporarily laid off about 65 percent of its headquarters staff, as well as an unspecified number of store and distribution center employees, to ease the financial blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a March 24 release, Pier 1 says employee furloughs took effect March 23, meaning the layoffs are in place “until further notice,” they say. This follows the retailer’s March 22 announcement of a temporary shutdown of its 521 stores in the U.S.; the company continues to fulfill orders through Pier1.com.

As of March 23, Pier 1’s headquarters is temporarily closed, with corporate employees now working remotely. 

Pier 1 employed about 4,000 full-time workers and 14,000 part-time workers in the U.S. and Canada as of March 2019. A more recent headcount wasn’t available, including how many employees work at the Fort Worth headquarters. Last year, more than 800 people worked at the corporate office.

Unrelated to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pier 1 had said in February that it was closing as many as 450 stores, including all of its locations in Canada. Before those closures, the company operated more than 930 stores in North America.

“Like many retailers that have temporarily closed stores in response to COVID-19, we are making difficult decisions that are necessary to preserve value in our business for the long-term benefit of our associates, customers and other stakeholders,” Robert Riesbeck, Pier 1’s CEO and chief financial officer, says in the March 24 release. “We are incredibly grateful to our associates for their commitment to our customers and our company, and we will continue to take appropriate actions to position Pier 1 for the future.”

Aside from temporarily laying off workers, Pier 1 has imposed pay cuts effective March 23 and lasting for an indefinite period:

  • 20 percent for remaining employees “who are critical to ensuring business continuity and a seamless customer experience on Pier1.com.”
  • 50 percent for executive vice presidents and above.
  • 30 percent for senior vice presidents.

In addition, compensation for all members of the Pier 1’s board of directors has been reduced or deferred by 50 percent. 

Pier 1 says it’s seeking to cut other expenses, as well.

“Pier 1 will continue to follow the guidelines of government and health officials in determining when it will reopen its offices and planned go-forward stores,” the company says, “and looks forward to doing so as soon as possible.”

In February, Pier 1 voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, enabling it to reorganize its finances. In court documents, Pier 1 listed $258.3 million in debts and $426.6 million in assets. In conjunction with bankruptcy filing, the retailer said it had secured a $256 million infusion from three lenders.

Pier 1, founded in 1962, is looking to sell the company as part of the bankruptcy process. On February 17, Pier 1 said it had expected bids for the company to be submitted around March 23. However, bankruptcy court proceedings are on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.