Walt Disney Co. is planning to shed 32,000 employees by the end of March — 4,000 more than previously announced — as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer its parks and resorts business.
The additional layoffs were disclosed in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. Disney (DIS) employs around 223,000 people, according to its most recent annual report. It had already announced plans to cut about 28,000 jobs in September.
The media and entertainment giant warned that it may also be forced to scrap its dividend in the future, and reduce or not make contributions to pension and retirement medical plans. It said it could slash investment in television and film productions, and furlough or terminate even more employees.
“Some of these measures may have an adverse impact on our businesses,” Disney (DIS) said in the filing.
The pandemic has slammed Disney’s parks business, which has more than 100,000 employees in the United States. The company has also been forced to suspend cruise ship sailings and delay major film releases, such as “Black Widow,” which was expected to be one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.
News that the company is preparing to cut thousands more jobs than it announced in September could attract the ire of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Abigail Disney, who have already condemned the company for the layoffs. Abigail Disney is a granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who founded the company in 1923 with his brother, Walt Disney.
Warren accused Disney of making “short-sighted” business decisions and rewarding executives and shareholders through “hefty compensation packages,” dividend payments and share buybacks in the years leading up to the crisis — a position that Disney CEO Bob Chapek described as “ill-considered and misleading.”
Abigail Disney has publicly backed the Democratic senator in the dispute.
All 12 of Disney’s parks in North America, Asia and Europe were closed between March and May. While Disney has since reopened theme parks in Shanghai and Florida, its flagship park in California will remain shut at least until the end of 2020. Disneyland Paris was forced to close again late last month when France imposed a second nationwide lockdown.
One bright spot has been its streaming service, Disney+, which now has some 74 million subscribers and has become the focus of the business following an overhaul of its media and entertainment division. Chapek said in an earnings statement last week that its direct-to-consumer business is “key” to the company’s future.
Disney swung to a loss of $2.8 billion for the year to September 30, marking a sharp reversal from the previous year, when the company posted a $10.4 billion profit.