【Unlocking Word Meanings】
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. headquarters / hɛdˌkwɔr tərz / (n.) – a place where the main operations of a business happen
Example: We’re on paid leave because our headquarters is being renovated.
2. lighten (somebody’s) load / ˈlaɪt n loʊd / (v.) – to make a difficult situation better or easier to manage
Example: I need an assistant so I can lighten my load.
3. shut down / ʃʌt daʊn / (v. phrase) – to close or to go out of business
Example: The company will shut down all its stores because of bankruptcy.
4. unclear / ˌʌnˈklɪər / (adj.) – not certain or unsure
Example: The future of the startup company is still unclear.
5. significance / sɪgˈnɪf ɪ kəns / (n.) – the importance of something
Example: The CEO emphasized the significance of prioritizing the employee’s welfare.
Read the text below.
Gap will close 175 of its stores and remove 250 jobs from its headquarters as part of the company’s strategy to strengthen its brand.
This strategy aims to lighten the company’s load, as Gap faces sales-related problems. According to Gap, it can save about $25 million per year by removing these jobs and closing stores. However, the company will have to spend around $140 to $160 million in order to implement these changes.
In North America, 140 Gap stores will be shutting down by January 31, 2016. The remaining Gap stores that have shown poor performance and have proven to be in a poor location will also be closed. Aside from the stores in the United States, a certain number of Gap stores will also be closed in Europe.
Currently, Gap has about 960 stores in North America. After closing some of its stores, this number will go down to only about 800. When asked about how many people will lose their job, Gap’s spokesperson refused to give an answer. It is also unclear if the workers from the stores to be closed will be laid off or transferred to other stores.
According to Amanda Nicholson [NIK-uh l-suh n] from the Syracuse [SIR-uh-kyoos] University Whitman School of Management, Gap’s problems are worse than those of other stores that have not been doing well. Nicholson said that in the United States, people no longer see the popularity and significance of the brand. Another reason behind Gap’s problem is the increasing number of brands that offer products at more affordable prices.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
· Do you think it is fair for Gap to fire its employees? Why or why not?
· How else can Gap improve its sales?
· Do you think most companies care more about profit than their employees? Justify your answer.
· How can companies take good care of their employees?