Powell’s Books has laid off “eight managers with many years of service to the company” as part of a reorganization of their corporate management structure. The company say it’s part “a continued effort to respond to the rapidly changing book industry.” Emily Powell acknowledges, “This is a difficult and painful time for Powell’s. The managers who were laid off today will be greatly missed.”
CEO of Operations Ann Smith is retiring after 26 years at the company. Emily Powell will serve as president and ceo, managing marketing and store operations, as Miriam Sontz expands her role as chief operating officer, managing inventory, information technology, finance, and facilities. The company says their reorganization “focuses on operational strength and customer experience.” Powell says they will be “integrating similar functions throughout the company that operated independently in the past. We have also renewed our focus on customers as part of this process.”
In February, the bookseller laid off 31 employees, or seven percent of their staff, citing “changing consumer behavior,” in particular the rise of ebooks, as well as changing nature of the business.
In addition, the Powell’s workers union has asked the federal Department of Labor to investigate its former bookkeeper/treasurer Britta Duncan, who is accused of having embezzled up to $50,000 from the bookstore before her departure last spring. The Portland Mercury reports that union leadership told Powell’s employees that “the new treasurer, who started last spring, quickly noticed errors and strange issues in the union’s finances.”