Retail giant Walmart has notified the state that its massive distribution center in Plainfield suffered so much damage in a mid-March fire that it won’t be able to reopen, creating employment uncertainty for more than 1,100 workers.
The fire broke out at the 1.2-million-square-foot building known as Walmart Fulfillment Center 4038 at 9590 Allpoints Parkway on March 16 and took two days to get under control. A cause for the fire has not been disclosed.
“Unfortunately, the property damage is too significant to reopen the facility for the foreseeable future,” Walmart said in a notice sent to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and dated April 22. “This letter is to notify you that the entire facility will close, impacting a number of Walmart associates.”
Walmart said 957 of the 2,089 people who were employed at the facility have accepted new jobs with the company, while 1,132 “have not accepted alternative positions.”
“Since the fire, Walmart has worked diligently to place as many of the impacted associates as possible in alternative roles in and around the Plainfield area,” the company said. “Those efforts included hosting a job fair, conducting associate training, and providing financial support, such as disaster pay and a paid job search period, as well as providing other necessary services.”
Walmart said employees taking new jobs with the company will receive the same base rate of pay as they did in their job at the fulfillment center.
The company said employees were notified on April 1 that the center would close. Hourly workers who do not take a new job with the company before their paid employment period ends will be terminated July 1. Salaried workers who do not take a new job with the company before their paid employment period ends will be terminated July 15.
Walmart said it expects the terminations to be permanent, but all separated employees can apply for new jobs at other Walmart or Sam’s Club locations, including distribution and other facilities.
The closed fulfillment center was built in 2015 on about 64 acres through a partnership between locally based firms Browning Investments and Duke Realty Corp. An adjacent center of similar size reopened about a week after the fire.
Walmart has more than 45 e-commerce fulfillment centers across the United States and several distribution centers in Indiana. The company is also developing a 2.2-million-square-foot hub in the Mount Comfort Corridor east of Indianapolis.