Walmart will close technology hubs in Texas, California and Oregon, and aim to relocate employees from there to other locations, including the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
“We’ve made the decision to focus our tech team’s presence within select locations,” Walmart said in an emailed statement. “We hope to relocate or allow for remote work for all affected associates.”
Walmart had been expanding its tech hubs across the United States and Canada over the past few years. It also has hubs in India. In March 2022, it announced it was opening hubs in Atlanta and Toronto. The hubs it is closing are in Austin, Texas; Carlsbad, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.
It was not immediately clear how many employees would be affected. News of the closings was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, has been building up its infrastructure over the years so that it can operate more like a tech company. In 2016, it acquired Jet.com for $3.3 billion in a bid to further its digital presence and compete against e-commerce giants like Amazon. Jet.com’s founder, Marc Lore, became Walmart’s chief executive of e-commerce. In 2020, Walmart announced it would discontinue the site and phase out the brand. Mr. Lore left the company in 2021.
Walmart’s digital business remains strong. In its most recent earnings, which it released in November, the retailer reported that e-commerce increased 1 percent from the previous year — and 38 percent from 2020. The company will report fourth-quarter earnings next Tuesday.
The closing of the tech hubs is also part of a trend in which large companies are calling workers back to headquarters. The push-and-pull between remote work and the return to office has been playing out for nearly two years, and some companies want employees closer at hand.
“The unique culture and values of Walmart are at the core of who we are,” the company said in its statement.
Walmart has been building a state-of-the-art office in Bentonville. The plans that it has revealed so far resemble tech company campuses in Silicon Valley, with services like child care and bicycles for employees.