December 9, 2014

Penguin Random House lays off 286 workers in Kirkwood warehouse


The warehouse in Kirkwood, slated to be closed before October 2015.

The warehouse in Kirkwood, slated to be closed before October 2015.

Random House‘s warehouses are famously fancy, so when the Penguin-Random merger came to pass, it seemed unlikely that all Penguin warehouses would stay in operation. Earlier this year, the company announced it would close two warehouses to “consolidate operations.”

Sure enough, Penguin Random has filed with the New York Department of Labor to lay off its workers and close the facility in the upstate New York town of Kirkwood, which is near Binghamton, by September 30, 2015.

Penguin has been in the space for decades. The move into this facility was the result of another consolidation, closing a warehouse in Tennessee and bringing titles by Viking Press to the Kirkwood space. Penguin Putnam decided to expand the space in the late 1990s, with an addition that cost about $15 million.

The company will leave behind a total of 422,904 square feet — that’s almost thirty-nine acres — or about $12.6 million in property. The stock will be moved to Westminster, Maryland and Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Kirkwood held an annual book sale each November, and this is the first year the community is going without. “We know this news will be disappointing to our loyal customers… but in the time ahead, we need to focus all our resources on our pending inventory relocation,” said James Clark, Penguin’s senior vice president of fulfillment and customer service.

Here is a job we don’t envy: after the merger, a team at Penguin Random calculated freight costs, delivery speed from each warehouse, the volume of orders each could handle, and finally determined that there were some spaces it could do without. A warehouse in Pittston, Pennsylvania is scheduled to close next year, too.

Some workers should be offered positions at other warehouses, according to press releases from last February. But we can guess these layoffs are a blow to the community in Kirkwood.



Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.