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Jos. A. Bank to lay off 122 from Hampstead headquarters

Jos A. Bank Clothiers is headquartered in Hampstead.
Jos A. Bank Clothiers is headquartered in Hampstead. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

Nearly a year after being acquired by rival Men's Wearhouse in a contentious takeover struggle, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers will lay off 122 employees at the company's corporate headquarters in Hampstead, a company spokesman said Monday.

The layoffs represent about 15 percent of the 780 employees at what has been Carroll County's fourth-largest employer.

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The employees losing their jobs were duplicating work being performed at Men's Wearhouse offices in New York City and Fremont, Calif., said Men's Wearhouse spokesman Diego Louro, although he declined to specify the types of positions being eliminated.

On Monday, Bank gave notice of the layoffs as required by law to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, saying the cuts would take effect between the end of May and the end of the year.

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"Let me make clear how much we have valued the commitment and contributions of those members of the Hampstead, Maryland community who have worked for Jos. A. Bank," Louro said in an email. "The company has truly benefited by being a company located in Hampstead and we look forward to maintaining a presence and continuing the positive relationship we have had with the town and the state."

After the layoffs and transfers to offices in Manhattan and Fremont, a city of some 220,000 southeast of San Francisco, the company will have a crew of 450 employees left in Carroll County, including office, distribution center and tailoring service employees, Louro said.

Since the $1.8 billion takeover was completed in June, Men's Wearhouse has been working on restructuring departments and revamping the organization, Louro said. When the deal closed last year, Men's Wearhouse CEO Doug Ewert said the company expected $100 million to $150 million in savings by the end of its 2016 fiscal year, with costs to be cut in merchandise sourcing, distribution, advertising and back-office corporate functions.

"We understand that this organizational reality for the company does not make it any easier to those Jos. A. Bank employees who are being directly impacted, especially those who are losing their jobs," Louro said. "We want to express our thoughts, concerns and let you know we understand that this can be a challenging time for those members of the Hampstead, Maryland community who will be impacted."

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Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin said he does not expect the layoffs to have significant economic repercussions on the town.

"I feel for the 122 workers affected by the reorganization, but the bulk of the employees appear to have been retained," Nevin said. "The overall fiscal impact to the town is minimal."

Daraius Irani, chief economist of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University, said the job losses are not surprising in light of the merger of the country's two largest men's clothing specialty chains, but the loss of what are likely well-paying jobs is a tough blow to the county.

"It's par for the course whenever you have a merger," Irani said. "These are good-paying jobs, white-collar jobs. It's not that big a county to begin with. That's the bad news."

He said those who will be looking for work are probably better off than they would have been if the layoffs had taken place in a weaker job market four or five years ago, but many will likely need to look outside the immediate area, perhaps in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington.

The merger of the two clothiers — Men's Wearhouse founded in 1973, Bank in 1905 — created a $3.5 billion company with 1,700 stores and some 23,000 employees across the country.

The marriage was made after a months-long, back-and-forth takeover fight that began in September 2013 when Bank offered to buy Men's Wearhouse for $48 per share, a $2.3 billion transaction.

Men's Wearhouse rejected that offer the next month, and Bank withdrew it. Days later, Men's Wearhouse offered to buy Bank, a smaller company, in a $1.2 billion deal. Bank rejected that proposal, and Men's Wearhouse mounted a hostile takeover that led eventually to a $65-per-share deal that was announced a year ago and made final in June.

Reporter Wiley Hayes of the Baltimore Sun Media Group contributed to this article.

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