UPS will lay off more than 400 workers at its logistics center in northern Kentucky, a significant cutback in the workforce in response to losing business from an online retailer, the company said Wednesday.
Some 433 people are losing their jobs, the bulk being hourly warehouse workers at the sprawling UPS facility near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, said UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg.
The cutbacks will begin in mid-March and be completed in April, she said.
The layoffs come after a decision by online retailer Zulily Inc. to stop relying on the UPS facility to manage inventory and fill orders, company officials said. The Seattle-based company provides apparel, gear and accessories for mothers, infants and children.
"We've had a wonderful collaboration with Zulily for inventory management and order distribution to help them grow as an e-tailer," UPS spokesman Norman Black said in a statement. "They've made a business decision to coordinate fulfillment and distribution in-house."
Operations will continue at the UPS Hebron facility, but with a scaled back work force of about 150 employees, Rosenberg said.
The Atlanta-based company hopes it's just a temporary setback for the key logistics operation for serving the retail industry.
"We're hoping to get new business in there and build back up," Rosenberg said in a phone interview.
Employees received the layoff notices in recent days, and state and local officials also were notified of the cutbacks, she said.
"We're extremely disappointed," said Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore. "Anytime workers are displaced in this economy, it's very unfortunate."
Moore said that UPS apparently did not receive any state or local incentives when it created the jobs now being cut.
Kerri Richardson, spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear, said the state is prepared to offer assistance for the soon-to-be-displaced workers "during this difficult time."
Moore said Boone County may be on the brink of several announcements of business expansions or plant openings that would amount to hundreds of new jobs in the northernmost tip of Kentucky.
Of the 400-plus people losing their jobs at UPS, about 100 are temporary workers, Rosenberg said.
A limited number of management jobs also are being cut, she said.
Some employees will be eligible for severance packages and job-placement assistance, based on longevity with the company, she said.
UPS, the world's largest shipping carrier, remains a major employer in Kentucky, especially in Louisville — home to UPS' largest air hub.
The company has invested $2 billion in recent years to expand its Worldport air hub in Louisville. UPS completed a $1 billion expansion of the hub last year that helped the company increase its package sorting capacity by 37 percent to 416,000 packages an hour.
Associated Press writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.