Online message boards were atwitter Thursday with the news that Borders had let go all store-based Paperchase merchandisers and managers. The news is at odds with reports from Borders executives earlier this spring that the chain might add more nonbook items in the future, citing the success it had been having with Paperchase's gift and stationery offerings. A Borders spokesperson told PW Thursday that the staff reduction does not reflect Borders' hopes for Paperchase's continued success, though.
Mary Davis told PW, "We are pleased with the performance of Paperchase. We did some restructuring within operations that resulted in the elimination of Paperchase merchandising roles. The net result of these changes is that stores will be empowered to process and merchandise Paperchase product going forward ensuring that assortment will be relevant and meaningful to the customers who shop those stores."
As of 1:00 this afternoon, the Live Journal blog “Work at Borders” had more than 50 comments from staffers and former staffers regarding the mass layoff. Davis's comment that "stores will be empowered to process and merchandise Paperchase product" may not be sitting well with some; one commenter on the Live Journal blog wrote, “Now I have to laugh because, in addition to all the other [things] we're behind on, we have to worry about merching Paperchase too? ”
Last August, Borders reorganized its Paperchase U.S. leadership team in what it called an effort to strengthen alignment with the U.K. headquarters of the gift and stationery retailer. Paperchase U.S. president Dick Lynch left the company, and Jim Frering joined Borders Group as v-p, Paperchase U.S. Operations.