Lowe's is laying off about 125 IT employees as the retailer continues to revamp its IT group into a more strategic, competitive entity, according to a memo from CIO Paul Ramsay obtained by the Associated Press.
Many of the cuts came at Lowe’s Mooresville, N.C., headquarters and some of the jobs are being relocated to Bangalore, India, according to the memo. Affected workers have been notified, and been given access to outplacement assistance and a job fair for IT positions with other local employers.
The latest round of layoffs comes after Lowe’s in January announced plans to shed 2,400 jobs, though it appeared that many workers affected by that announcement would be moved to jobs elsewhere in the company.
The massive layoffs announced in January were not specifically IT layoffs, at least that wasn’t mentioned at the time. However, as many as 95 IT-related jobs were cut in October in a move that sounds very similar to this week’s decision. In the earlier case, Lowe’s said some of the jobs were being off-shored to India. The retailer actually opened an IT office in Bangalore back in 2014, where it currently employs about 1,000 people.
So, to some degree, these cuts seem like part of an ongoing effort to move IT functions to India. However, it's also true that Lowe’s has not been performing well financially of late, having missed analyst expectations for the first quarter and reporting lower overall earnings. The company may be reshaping its IT group to be more competitively-focused, which is a revenue-generating move, but it also appears to be steadily off-shoring IT functions that don't need to be done in the U.S., which is a cost-saving move.
The off-shoring of organizational IT jobs is an increasingly common occurrence in the retail sector as retailers try to revamp the structure and strategic goals of their IT departments. J.C. Penney did something similar last summer, as it off-shored IT jobs to its own Bangalore office.For the sake of Lowe's technology ambitions, hopefully the retailer is not cutting jobs from its Lowe’s Innovation Labs or other forward-looking technology teams working on new products or services for Lowe's.
But off-shoring jobs to India sparks a renewed debate about preserving jobs here in the U.S. Sure, the market is hot for tech talent, but off-shoring cost-cutting measures are often lambasted by public officials. For example, President Donald Trump, focused on decisions from Disney as part of his platform to reshape the H-1B visa program.