New York - Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is eliminating about 2 500 employees at its Sam’s Club warehouse division in a bid to improve efficiency at the business.

The move was intended to streamline management at clubs of varying sizes and improve operations, Bill Durling, the head of corporate communications at Sam’s Club, said at the weekend, adding that the job cuts, effective on Friday, included assistant managers and some hourly workers such as phone attendants, he said.

“We’re always looking at how to be more efficient and effective,” he said. “We’re doing this so we can position ourselves for future growth.”

The company said in November last year that sales at Sam’s Club rose 1.1 percent to $14.1 billion (R156bn) in the third quarter. When Walmart reported those quarterly results, it also cut its annual profit forecast for the second time since August amid a struggle to prevent low-income customers from taking their business to rivals.

Durling said the retailer would pay affected workers their salaries for 60 days with the opportunity to look for another position at a Sam’s Club or Walmart store.

After the 60-day period, the employees would be paid severance if they had not found another post within the firm.

The job cuts also included combining six leader roles in the club’s fresh food division into three positions.

Walmart fell 0.7 percent to $74.42 at the close in New York on Friday. The stock has gained 6.6 percent in the past year compared with a 20 percent advance for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The job cuts were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg