Borders Group Inc. is in the middle of a process that will result in a major change in the way its superstores are managed. Tami Heim, president of Borders, said the goal of the restructuring is to streamline in-store management and to have store personnel become more responsive to customer needs. As part of the realignment, Borders is eliminating the community relations coordinator at each store as well as the assistant manager and lead clerk positions, while creating new manager, supervisor and seller functions. Less than 200 jobs, about 1% of Borders' workforce, will be eliminated as a result of the reorganization.

The changes are the result of 18 months of reviewing store operations, Heim said. An important element in the restructuring is that Borders will now staff each store based on volume. "In the past we had a one size fits all model. That just doesn't work any more," Heim told PW . "We're being more responsive to the marketplace and leveraging our strengths," she added. By shifting job responsibilities, Borders intends to increase the percentage of dollars available to pay "sellers." "We want to better compensate the people who work with our customers," Heim said. In addition, some employees who had been assistant managers are being promoted to managers, while others will be offered a supervisor role. Assistant managers who accept the supervisor slot will be paid on an hourly basis rather than being a salaried employee as they had been.

Regarding the changes in the community relations function, Borders has created area marketing managers, another new position. In addition, some stores will have their own field national events specialists. In all, some 330 community events specialists are being replaced by 72 area marketing managers and 10 field national events specialists. The new positions are being filled by former community event specialists. Anne Roman, v-p of corporate affairs, said the company decided to adopt a regional approach to the community relations function as a result of expansion which has resulted in a number of outlets being located in the same areas.

Heim said that the company feels "very positive about the changes. We'll be able to better serve our customers, while also being able to better compensate our employees and provide them with more career paths." Compensation changes will be implemented March 21, the day set for the realignment to be completed.