Several Sam's Club stores throughout the nation reportedly closed Thursday without notice to the public. Among the closed stores is the Lantana location at 7233 N. Seacrest Blvd.
A spokesman for Sam's Club confirmed the company closed 63 stores today, but not all will remain closed permanently. About 10 clubs will be converted into e-commerce fulfillment sites, but those locations have not been determined.
The Twitter account for Sam's Club confirmed a "series of clubs" would be closing but did not report where the stores would close.
After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) January 11, 2018
Pharmacies will remain open at the impacted stores for two more weeks, the company tweeted.
Pharmacies will stay open for at least two weeks, and we will work with each state’s Board of Pharmacy to help guide this transition.
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) January 11, 2018
Lantana Mayor David Stewart tells WPTV that the Lantana store will close on Jan. 26.
Stewart received a memo from the company announcing the closing.
Mayor Stewart says 119 people will be out of a job soon. "All we can do is hope that there are businesses and industries that can pick them up and keep the people on the workforce," he said.
The letter the Mayor Stewart received said hourly employees will get paid until March and management will continue to get paid until April.
The Lantana store's voicemail says the store is closed today, but will be open Friday. WPTV reached someone there, who referred all questions to Walmart's media relations department. The store's location was removed from the company's website.
The Sam's Club on 45th Street in West Palm Beach was open today.
Sandra Mack has shopped at Sam's Club for 20 years. Mack says in that time she's gotten to know a lot of employees and that Thursday's news has them uncertain about the future.
"A lot of them are really going to be displaced as far as a job because they don't know what they're going to do once the store closes."
Two of the stores were in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, but news outlets across the nation -- including Baltimore, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Memphis and Houston -- reported similar unannounced closures of Sam's Club stores Thursday.
Employees commented on WCPO's Facebook page and said they had no notice of the closure before receiving a letter in the mail.
Also Thursday, Walmart -- the owner and operator of Sam's Club -- announced it would raise minimum pay to $11 per hour and give employees one-time bonuses of $1,000. Walmart attributed the pay increase to the recent tax reform bill.
John Furner, President and CEO of Sam's Club sent the following email to employees Thursday morning:
From: John Furner, President and CEO – Sam’s Club
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2018 8:37 AM
Subject: Transforming our business
Over the past year, we’ve talked about how our business must change in order to be positioned for the future of retail. We’re committed to creating a new and better Sam’s Club that offers more value and a great experience to our members. When I shared our strategy in October, I said we’d make the choices it will take to get there. Today, I want to share some important decisions we’ve made.
Transforming our business means managing our real estate portfolio - we need a strong fleet of clubs that are fit for the future. After a thorough review, it became clear we had built clubs in some locations that impacted other clubs, and where population had not grown as anticipated. We’ve decided to right-size our fleet and better align our locations with our strategy. We will be closing some clubs, and we notified them today. We’ll convert some of them into eCommerce fulfillment centers - to better serve the growing number of members shopping with us online and continue scaling the SamsClub.com business. The first of these conversions will be in Memphis, Tennessee.
We know these decisions impact people we care about deeply - our associates and their families, as well as our members and their neighbors - and we did not make them lightly. A Sam’s Club is a place of community and memories, and we are so appreciative of our associates who have worked hard over the years to serve our members. Our immediate focus will be on helping those impacted by today’s news. We will work to place as many associates as possible in new roles at nearby locations, and we’ll provide them with support, resources, and severance pay to those eligible. Many of our associates and members will move to nearby clubs. If you work in such a club, please make them feel welcome.
The steps being announced today will help us serve our members better and grow. We’ll be able to invest more in eCommerce, remodels, and in-club technology. We’ll also be able to lean into the areas members care about most, including fresh food, Member’s Mark, and exciting merchandise. By narrowing our focus and simplifying what we do, we’ll be able to provide better items, a better experience, and a more valuable membership. In the coming weeks, we’ll share some exciting steps we’re taking to become even more special to our members.
Change is never easy, but we’re making these decisions from a position of strength. As you've seen in our recent quarterly results, our traffic and comps have improved, and that’s because of the work you do to serve our members. We have momentum, and now is the time to accelerate our transformation efforts. Thank you.