A Message from Our CEO Roger Rawlins: COVID-19 Operations Update for March 25, 2020

Posted on 3/25/2020 2:56:48 PM

To Our Associates,


Earlier today we announced a series of steps that affect many of our team members, our colleagues and our friends, as we continue to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. I wanted to provide an update on why we made these decisions and how we will tackle this crisis moving forward.  


The world is facing a global health crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. We are forced to make difficult decisions to protect the health of our associates, customers and communities while also protecting the long-term viability of our business.


We decided to temporarily close our stores to the public beginning March 17th, and they will remain closed until further notice to continue to keep our associates and customers healthy. Without open stores, our revenue and our ability to operate is greatly challenged.  


Our company has always demonstrated resilience in overcoming hurdles – from the sweeping changes in the consumer and retail landscape to the rise of new competitors from many directions. This is one of the most difficult decisions we have ever made as a company. It is our commitment to our associates to do all we can to quickly resume full operations. For now, we must pivot to operating as a dot-com-only business.


We will rise to this challenge, but we have to make some painful decisions to adapt our operations and ensure the long-term health of our business. We have taken the following actions.


  • Temporary Leave of Absence. We have already informed most associates across Designer Brands (DSW, Camuto, Canada and Shared Services) who do not directly support our dot-com business that they will be put on a temporary unpaid leave of absence ("temporary layoff" in Canada), effective Sunday, March 29, 2020. Impacted associates will retain their benefits coverage and years of service.


  • Salary Reduction. All associates remaining in the business at this time will take an indefinite reduction in salary.


  • Across the Board Changes. We also instituted a hiring freeze and put a hold on 2020 merit increases, while still paying out associate bonuses for FY2019.


A year ago, when we became Designer Brands, we began a new journey. And since then we have made steady progress in gaining market share and driving our strategic growth pillars. Those pillars remain unchanged, and now we will embrace the mindset of a start-up. We are an e-commerce retailer with the reach of 700 fulfillment points and multiple websites to serve our customers across North America.


We will do everything we can to prepare our in-store business to relaunch once this virus is contained and we can resume operations in a manner that protects the health of our associates, customers and communities. 


Thank you to all of our associates, everywhere, for your dedication. Take care of yourselves. Take care of your families. Take care of each other, and together we will be ready for tomorrow.


Roger Rawlins

CEO, Designer Brands