MANCHESTER — Orvis has been forced into layoffs and furloughs in recent weeks across its operation, including locally.
The exact number of jobs involved wasn't revealed, but Public Relations Manager Tucker Kimball said the cuts were across the outdoor retailer's entire operation, including positions at the corporate headquarters in Sunderland and both retail locations in Manchester.
Kimball said 20 percent of the employees at the headquarters have had their jobs eliminated and the majority of workers in the retail stores and the rod shop in Manchester have been furloughed.
"Not unlike a lot of retailers right now, in the face of COVID and the challenges that come with that, and the challenges that come with the economy, we've had to make some pretty extraordinarily tough decisions," Kimball said.
In all, Kimball said that before the layoffs and furloughs, Orvis employed about 1,700 people across its 80 U.S. retail locations, its fishing rod-building facility in Manchester and its corporate headquarters in Sunderland.
That included about 250 employees at the headquarters, 60 in the rod shop in Manchester and another 30 employees at the Orvis flagship and outlet stores, both in Manchester.
All retail stores have been closed across the country.
In addition, executives from the director level and up have taken a pay cut of up to 50 percent.
The company's board of directors has suspended its compensation, and all full-time exempt employees have taken a pay cut.
Kimball said the furloughed employees will be brought back as soon as stores are allowed to reopen and they can do so safely.
"We want to get all employees back to receiving their normal pay," Kimball said.
While all stores are closed, Orvis' online business is still operating and website orders are being processed out of the company's fulfillment center in Roanoke, Va.
Kimball said all employees who were laid off were offered a severance package. and the company is maintaining health care contributions through the end of May.
There are also outplacement services offered.
Kimball said the personnel moves have been hard.
"These are team members and colleagues and friends, so this has been a really difficult process for everyone," Kimball said. "We know that these decisions have a real impact on our people. We've been trying to make them as thoughtfully as possible. It's been a really difficult process over the past couple of weeks."
Kimball said Orvis has also joined the fight against the coronavirus in several ways, including making masks to serve homeless people in Virginia and face shields in Vermont.
Orvis staffers have converted a sewing operation into a process to make cloth masks that are distributed to the homeless community through a partnership with the Rescue Mission, a Roanoke organization that serves that community.
The sewing facility is producing about 2,000 masks per week.
"It's a vulnerable population," Kimball said. "The need is there and it's something we can do. We're proud to play that role and help out."
Locally, two employees from the rod shop have put down their fly-rod building skills and started building face shields using Orvis 3D printers working from home.
"We're working with SVMC to get them shields," Kimball said. "We're also working to get shields to a local pediatrics office in Burlington. This is another way during this time in our lives we're able to help folks in our community."
Contact Darren Marcy at email@example.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.