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QVC to lay off more than 1,900 workers in Rocky Mount; future of warehouse yet to be determined

QVC has decided to close its massive warehouse damaged by a huge fire and will lay off more than 1,900 people who worked there

Posted Updated

Jason Parker
, WRALTechWire reporter
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — QVC will lay off more than 1,900 people who worked in Rocky Mount warehouse, which was damaged by a huge fire in December, the company’s corporate parent has disclosed in a Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification notice filed with the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

"QVC will be closing and ceasing all operations at its DC located at 100 QVC Blvd., Rocky Mount, NC, 27815. As a result of this closure, QVC plans to terminate the employment of all employees employed at this location," wrote Alicia Keane of QVC’s corporate parent Quarte Retail Group.

“The company is still assessing the extent of the damage, but it is clear the site will not be operable and there will be no work for the team in the foreseeable future," added Keane.

Keane, the firm’s director and people lead for operations, said the firm “plans to terminate” most employees beginning Feb. 1. The company will provide workers with health insurance until the end of February and help them find new jobs, officials have told WRAL News.

Some workers will be retained to “facilitate an orderly wind down of operations.”

"All team members will be provided with the opportunity to seek employment at other QRG locations around the country," said Keane.

Businesses that employ at least 100 workers, but excluding part-time workers, are required to file a notice when the firm plans to close a plant that affects at least 50 employees during any 30-day period or conduct a mass layoff of at least 500 employees or a layoff that would impact 50-499 employees when the total number of layoffs would represent at least one-third of the employer’s workforce.

QVC employee Bruce Avent told WRAL News with the layoffs, he's worried about himself, his retired mother he supports and his coworkers.

"They're kind of mindboggled. They don't know what to do," said Avent. "Everybody was kind of complacent where they were and content with the job they had. Looking for another job wasn't on anybody's mind, so it came as a complete shock to everyone."

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s WARN Report, lists the action taken by the company as “closure permanent.”

The notice written and signed by Keane states that the letter and notice is sent in conjunction with “the closure and cessation of all operations at QVC Rocky Mount, Inc.’s (“QVC”) Rocky Mount Distribution Center (“DC”).”

A spokesperson for the company told WRAL earlier on Thursday that “no long term decision about the site has been made.”

“We are still assessing the impact of the fire and, while we haven’t made any long-term decisions about the site, we already know the building will be closed for an extended period and there will not be work there for the team for the foreseeable future,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “The WARN notification to the state and local governmental officials is a federal obligation based on the loss of employment by our team members at this time, and it allows the various state agencies to begin to extend valuable assistance to our team members," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Keane described the five-alarm fire on Dec. 19 as “tragic.”

It destroyed 75% of the facility, which is located on QVC Boulevard near U.S. Highway 64.

After QVC officials said that everyone inside the center made it out of the building, one employee, 21-year-old Kevon Ricks, was reported missing and was later found dead. Family members told WRAL News that Ricks, the father of a 1-year-old child, had just started working at QVC weeks before the fire.

Investigators said it could take weeks to determine the cause of the fire at the 1.5-million square foot facility.

Report by WRAL TechWire's Rick Smith and Jason Parker.

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