Caught up in the same sales drop that is dogging the rest of the retail industry, Eden Prairie-based ValueVision Media Inc. said Wednesday it will cut 11 percent of its workforce, or about 60 jobs.
The company, which operates struggling online and cable television shopping network ShopNBC, has laid off more than one in four salaried employees since May 2007.
In addition to cutting staff, ValueVision said it would suspend its 401(k) match and also freeze salaries and bonuses in the coming year.
Most of the layoffs will come from the company's headquarters, but they also include workers at its call center in Brooklyn Center and warehouse in Bowling Green, Ky., said Chief Financial Officer Frank Elsenbast. Workers across all levels of the organization were affected, including many vice presidents and higher. One of the most notable layoffs involved longtime host Bill Fahey, cohost of a 6 to 9 a.m. weekday program on ShopNBC. Fahey was one of four hosts whose jobs were eliminated, according to a company spokesman.
ValueVision was in a tailspin long before the country fell into recession and consumers quit shopping for anything but daily staples. The company hasn't made a profit since 2001 and has had a revolving door of CEOs in recent years. With shareholders in revolt, the company hired an investment banker in September to consider options to bring it to profitability, including selling the company and finding an equity partner.
ValueVision's stock has been trading below a dollar since mid-October, and in September it reported a net loss of nearly $21 million after sales tumbled 32 percent.
President Keith Stewart said in a statement Wednesday that the cost-cutting measures were "difficult but necessary."
"By reducing our cost structure today, we will be able to focus on our long-term objectives of better serving our loyal customers and achieving profitable growth," he said.
ValueVision said it also has renegotiated its cable and satellite distribution agreements of 18 million of its 72 million homes, and is close to cutting deals with the remaining 30 percent of cable operators with contracts up this year.
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335