retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart, which bought men's clothing e-retailer Bonobos in 2017 for $310 million, yesterday said it would begin laying off "a few dozen" of the some 600 people who work there.

The move comes as Walmart tries to stanch some of the red ink associated with its various e-commerce businesses, especially the non-core businesses that it has acquired over the past few years as a way of spreading around its bets.

The story points out that "Walmart has said losses in its e-commerce division, which includes Bonobos, will be higher this fiscal year than last. The company has been spending heavily to ramp up its e-commerce operations, including grocery delivery. Most of Walmart’s profits still come from its traditional U.S. stores."

Last Friday, Walmart said it is selling ModCloth, another of the e-commerce businesses during that spurt of acquisitiveness. There also have been reports that it would like to either sell or take on a partner for its Jetblack concierge service in New York City.
KC's View:
This just illustrates something that we've long talked about here on MNB - the cultural dissonance at Walmart that could prevent it from being a full-fledged e-commerce competitor to Amazon. There are so many legacy systems and tradition-bound approaches at Walmart, which always is going to be a stores-based organization, that it is hard to color too far outside the lines.

Now, to be fair, this isn't a big percentage of people being laid off at Bonobos. But based on various conversations I've had, there seems little question that many of the investments it made in non-core businesses over the past few years will be sold off or reduced … that Jet eventually will be completely absorbed by Walmart … that Jetblack will either get a partner or a new owner … and that Marc Lore, who has been engineering the e-policies at Walmart since it bought Jet, at some point in the not-too-distant future will decide to leave the company, wait out his non-compete period, and then start something else.