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HSN’s new owner cuts 350 jobs, many in St. Petersburg

Margie Manning

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Qurate Retail Group Inc. will eliminate 350 positions by the end of this year, most of them at HSN’s St. Petersburg and Long Island, N.Y. operations.

It’s one of a series of initiatives by Qurate (NASDAQ: QRTEA, QRTEB), the new name for what was QVC Group, that the company said are designed to better position its HSN and QVC US businesses for long term growth, increase synergies, and accelerate its digital transformation.

The changes come less than a year after the December 2017 purchase of HSN Inc., a St. Petersburg-based multi-channel retailer, in a deal with an equity value of $1.9 billion.

HSN’s campus in St. Petersburg will be redesigned to create a better working environment, and HSN’s Ingenious Design Studio in Long Island will close, Qurate said.

Qurate remains committed to the HSN brand and the St. Petersburg campus, said Mike Fitzharris, president of HSN.

Mike Fitzharris is president of HSN.

“The actions we are taking today are difficult, but they are imperative for our long-term success,” Fitzharris said. “We thank all of our HSN team members for their hard work and dedication over the years, and for the support of the Tampa Bay community as we continue to evolve our business for the new retail economy.”

Employees who lose their jobs will get severance payments, continuation of some benefits, and outplacement assistance, the company said.

While most of the job cuts impact HSN facilities, a smaller number of Qurate Retail Group and QVC positions in West Chester, Pennsylvania also will be eliminated.

Qurate is combining HSN and QVC US into a new business unit that will be referred to as QXH. The move is designed to take advantage of the combined size and resources of the two companies, while maintaining the unique identity of each brand, the company said.

Combined, HSN and QVC US generated $8.5 billion in revenue in 2017, reached 100 million homes through five broadcast networks, attracted more than 1 billion website visitors and shipped over 170 million items.

As part of the initiatives, the HSN and QVC US buying organizations will be combined in a move designed to increase speed to market.

HSN and QVC fulfillment centers also will be integrated. The company will open a new fulfillment center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 2019, adding 1,200 to 1,500 jobs, but it and expects to eliminate about 1,725 positions the following year, when it closes existing fulfillment centers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roanoke, Virginia; and Greenville, Tennessee. The Lancaster center was part of QVC, while the Roanoke center was part of HSN.

Qurate is moving away from owning its fulfillment centers and increasingly will lease the facilities, the company said.

Fitzharris also will add new responsibilities. In addition to serving as president of HSN and providing oversight for the St. Petersburg campus, he will be responsible for QXH video platform expansion and distribution and the HSN digital, content and broadcast operations.

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