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Wednesday, November 14 Business

Marriott to lay off more than 160 in Stamford

STAMFORD — Marriott International plans to lay off 163 Stamford-based employees at the turn of the year, a move that would represent the first round of local downsizing following its September acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

The layoffs mostly affect senior positions such as vice president, director and other managerial posts. The cuts would take place between Dec. 31 and Jan. 13, according to city and state records.

“The Marriott-Starwood integration is in full swing, and with that comes the creation of new positions along with the elimination of some redundancies,” Marriott spokeswoman Felicia Farrar McLemore said in an email Monday. “The majority of impacted associates were made aware of the status of their position some time ago.”

Marriott completed in September its approximately $13 billion acquisition of Stamford-based Starwood, a union that created the largest hotel company in the world. But the absorption of Starwood into Marriott meant that Starwood’s home at One StarPoint in the city’s South End would no longer operate as a corporate headquarters because Marriott is based in Bethesda, Md.

Many observers of the company had anticipated the merger would have a major impact on Starwood’s approximately 700 Stamford-based employees.

“This is just a normal part of business when two companies are combining their senior management together,” said Thomas Madden, the city’s economic development director. “When you merge two companies, you can only have one level of senior management.”

A number of local business leaders have expressed concerns that the merger could lead to the firm’s eventual departure from the city.

“I knew this was going to happen — and I was hopeful that I would be proven wrong — but the reality set in, and people are going to lose their jobs in Stamford,” said Jack Condlin, president and CEO of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce. “Stamford will survive, but economic growth becomes more important when something like this happens.”

Marriott officials said that they expected to maintain a presence in Stamford for the foreseeable future.

“When we announced the merger in November 2015, we said that there would be some duplication of functions — mostly at the corporate level,” McLemore said. “While we don’t have an exact number of jobs that will be impacted in Stamford at this time, we will know more about staffing decisions as we continue the integration process.

Laid-off employees would be able to apply for other positions in the company, according to Marriott officials.

“We also anticipate that many associates will find new opportunities within the company and we will be working closely with them through this process,” McLemore said.

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Madden and Mayor David Martin said that they did not think that Marriott’s cuts would disrupt the city’s economy. Corporate expansions in Stamford — such as the recently announced move of Henkel Corp.’s laundry and home care and beauty care headquarters from Arizona — far outweigh downsizing and departures, they said.

“We have companies expanding their offices within Stamford like Indeed.com, Gartner and Synchrony, and companies like Henkel that are moving here from out of state and creating hundreds of jobs,” Martin said in a statement Monday. “Stamford remains a great place for companies and businesses of all sizes, and we are working hard to attract and retain companies that will create Stamford jobs long-term.”

Martin also cited Starwood for its backing of the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, which supports hundreds of high school students, and its training events with The Business Council of Fairfield County.

Starwood has been based in Stamford since 2012, when it moved from White Plains, N.Y.

While they review their Stamford offices, Marriott executives are looking for a new headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area. About 4,000 Marriott employees are based in Bethesda and in satellite offices in the surrounding area. Marriott’s headquarters lease runs until 2022.

The newly expanded Marriott now operates or franchises more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, comprising 30 brands in more than 110 countries. With the completion of the Starwood acquisition, Marriott’s distribution expands to include Starwood’s portfolio of some 1,300 hotels worldwide. In comparison, Hilton Worldwide operates as the second-largest business in the industry with about 4,700 properties.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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