1,190 Facing Layoffs at Sears, 350 in Alhambra

Times Staff Writer

Sears, Roebuck & Co. said Monday that it will lay off up to 1,190 people, including up to about 350 in Alhambra, in a restructuring of the Chicago retailer's field management organization.

Sears will close four territorial offices responsible for overseeing retail stores, administrative groups and most of the company's U.S. support facilities. Two new field organizations in Chicago will assume those responsibilities, a Sears spokesman said.

Of the 1,800 people employed at the four territorial offices, 1,190 will find their jobs "discontinued," the spokesman said. A maximum of slightly more than 350 of Sears' 500 Alhambra employees will be laid off.

The actual number of layoffs probably won't reach 1,190 at the four offices because an undetermined number of employees will be offered new jobs with Sears, while others can take early retirement, the spokesman said.

The four offices that will be closed on June 30 are in Alhambra, Atlanta, St. Davids, Pa., and Skokie, Ill. The cost of closing the offices will have a minimal effect on 1986 earnings, Sears said.

Sears' field management organization, which was established in the 1940s, no longer serves the company's needs, the spokesman said. Advances in transportation and communications, for example, have made such a far-flung operation unnecessary, he said.

William I. Bass, chairman and chief executive of Sears' merchandise group, said the "new streamlined field organization will help speed decision-making and response to a fast-changing marketplace."

"In addition, by reducing administrative expense, it will help Sears maintain competitive prices at an acceptable profit margin," Bass said.

As part of its plan to simplify management structure, Sears has consolidated its retail stores into 28 administrative groups from 50 groups five years ago and from more than 100 a few years before that. Sears has 800 retail stores, 109 surplus stores, 103 business systems centers, 12 paint and hardware stores, 675 catalogue sales offices and 1,693 independent catalogue sales outlets.

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