- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

Nearly 600 corporate Hecht’s employees will lose their jobs in May, as Federated Department Stores, which bought the local chain in August, moves administrative jobs to New York.

Federated, which also owns Macy’s department stores, plans to lay off 595 employees, including 259 persons in clerical positions, 126 merchandise buyers and assistant buyers, and five senior vice presidents, among others, at the Hecht’s Arlington corporate headquarters, according to the company and a notice filed with the Virginia Employment Commission, which is required under federal labor law.

Hecht’s parent company, May Department Stores, was purchased by Federated in August for $11 billion. Part of Federated’s plan for the May stores is to close its regional chains, including Hecht’s, Filene’s and Famous-Barr, and turn them into Macy’s stores.

Federated, a Cincinnati department store chain, said in September that 1,033 jobs at the Arlington facility would be eliminated, along with 5,200 corporate jobs in Boston, Houston and Los Angeles, saving the company $175 million this year and $450 million next year.

The layoffs announced this week are the first at Hecht’s. When Federated bought May last year, it said layoffs would not begin until March 1.

“This is the first wave of layoffs,” said Macy’s spokeswoman Elina Kazan. “The second wave — I don’t know when that would be — may be a much smaller amount of people.”

Some employees have been offered positions with Federated, Ms. Kazan said, while others have voluntarily left the company.

The U.S. Labor Department requires a 60-day notice to the state when closing a plant or laying off more than 500 employees.

Corporate administrative work and merchandise purchasing for the new Macy’s stores have moved to Macy’s regional division offices. D.C.-area stores will be operated from Macy’s East in New York.

Hecht’s is one of the largest employers in Arlington County.

“Any moves [within the company] are not within the area. That makes it tough for people not chosen to stay on,” said Rich Doud, president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. “If they’re not willing to move, they’d probably have to change industries.”

The layoffs are scheduled to be implemented May 1 to May 14, according to the notification.

The fates of the Hecht’s headquarters building and attached department store are still undecided, Ms. Kazan said.

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