Retail firm DFS Hawaii plans to lay off 165 of its 660 employees in three locations across Hawaii's islands, officials said. Financial losses due to decreases in the international travel market prompted the staff reductions announced Thursday, company officials said.
"International travel to Hawaii from Asia has been in a downward trend for many months and there is no foreseeable indication this will be reversed in the near term," said Tim DeLessio, president of Global Store Operations for Hong Kong-based DFS Group.
DFS Hawaii says positions are expected to be cut at two Oahu locations including T Galleria in Waikiki and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, as well as the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport on the Big Island.
The affected employees worked in the management, sales, operations, and clerical departments. Eligible workers will receive severance packages based on their individual years of service, officials said.
DFS Hawaii caters largely to international travelers. The company's flagship store in Waikiki opened in 1975 and is now the chain's sixth largest galleria store worldwide. The first DFS Hawaii duty-free shop in the United States was established at what was previously known as Honolulu International Airport, now the Inouye International Airport.
"A marked drop in visitor expenditures and an overall softening in consumer sentiment, combined with the high costs that we are paying to remain in Hawaii, meant we could not delay the inevitable any longer," DeLessio said in a statement. "This was a difficult decision, forced by a difficult environment."