Eden Prairie's CH Robinson lays off 650 workers

Eden Prairie’s CH Robinson lays off 650 workers

Freight and cargo logistics giant CH Robinson laid off 650 workers this week, the latest employer to do so in response to a slowing economy.

Officials at the Eden Prairie-based company confirmed the layoffs Friday. They were first reported by trade publication Freight Waves.

CEO Bob Biesterfeld discussed sagging third-quarter results and weakening freight demand in retail, housing and other markets in an earnings call last week with Wall Street analysts. He said the company would be taking “actions to structurally reduce our overall cost structure.”

In response to a question about why the company added 100 jobs as recently as the second quarter, Biesterfeld said: “Admittedly, we likely [got] ahead of ourselves in terms of head count [for the global forwarding division]. We certainly did not expect that the market was going to come down as rapidly as it did.”

With high inflation, rising interest rates on loans and consumers curtailing spending, Biesterfeld and other officials at the third-party logistics provider predicted in July that they would see slower demand and expected it to continue through the rest of this year.

“We’re now seeing those expectations play out, with slowing freight demand and price declines in the freight forwarding and surface transportation markets,” Biesterfeld told analysts during the call.

The cuts this week involve 3.6% of the 17,945 employees CH Robinson reported it had earlier this month. The company has just under 2,600 employees in Minnesota.

Regarding the layoffs, “These are not easy decisions, because we recognize the significant contribution of the impacted employees,” company spokesman Duncan Burns said in a statement on Friday. “We have tried to approach this with as much respect and empathy for our former colleagues as possible and are providing transition assistance.”

CH Robinson’s staff reductions are not isolated. In recent days, technology giants such as Facebook’s Meta, Google and Twitter, and local firms such as Code42, Bright Health Group and Fresh Vine Wine also announced layoffs.

CH Robinson, which arranges freight, cargo and logistics assistance to firms worldwide, generated about $23 billion in revenue last year. Last week, the company said third-quarter revenue fell 4% year-over-year to $6 billion and net income fell 8.6% to $226 million.

The company’s stock on Friday rose nearly 5% to close at $98.26 a share.

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