Why Follett Layoffs? All You Need To know

Through its subsidiaries, Follett Corporation offers a selection of educational products. They offer them to schools, universities, and public libraries. Follett Corporation dates back to 1873 when Charles Montgomery Barnes founded many bookstores and wholesale distribution businesses. An investor group purchased Follett in February 2022. Follett announced a restructuring of bookshop labor in March 2023. This included mass layoffs and personnel reclassifications.

In North America, Follett Higher Education Group operates the most campus stores. Our one-stop shop for classes and on-campus life is their bookstore. More than 15,000 people work for this business. In this article, let us learn more about Follett Corporation.

Overview of the company

The Follett Corporation is a well-known provider of educational resources on a global scale. This includes digital content, eCommerce, and multimedia for libraries, schools, and other organizations. Westchester, Illinois, serves as its corporate headquarters. In North America, Follett serves millions of students in 70,000 schools. It has more than 2,700 physical locations and campus eCommerce platforms with educational technology, services, and physical and digital content. Follett has access to the public library market via Baker & Taylor.

Follett Corporation sold its corporate structure and higher education division, known as Follett Higher Education. It was bought by a group of private investors headed by Jefferson River Capital LLC (JRC) in February 2023. The Follett family has now officially left the education industry. This happened after nearly 150 years with the sale of FHE, college retail, and Follett Access.

In 2013, Follett cut 570 bookstore employees

On November 8, 2013, Follett Higher Education Group notified its workforce that it was “modifying [its] store staffing model.” This was done to increase sales floor staffing during peak shopping times for college students. In preparation for this, 570 full-time staff from 400 of its outlets were laid off.

All 6,000 workers (as of 2013) in Follett’s Higher Education Group received the memo, which was distributed. According to Bob Scholl, vice president of retail operations at Follett, the layoffs were “essential to not only enhance the experience of our customers but also to allow Follett to keep expanding and invest in the future.” To more tactically respond to student purchases, Follett plans to staff its bookstores with more part-time staffers and fewer full-time workers.

According to Scholl, there will be “more freedom to schedule each day, week, and year” due to the layoffs of full-time workers. The result will be more worker hours spent in our campus stores serving customers, increasing sales potential and customer happiness. The new flexible schedule “is part of Follett’s far-reaching and comprehensive change. It is reflected in the fact that we’ve spent more than $200 million in technology, distribution, digital content, and e-commerce over the past three years alone,” he added.

Tom Kline is a Follett spokesperson at the River Grove corporate headquarters of the Follett Corporation. He claimed that all of the full-time workers who were let go worked at locations that “were not in line with the ratio we defined for the norm” of full-time to part-time campus bookstore employees, which Kline revealed is a goal of 80%/20%.

All laid-off workers received cash severance payments totaling “a minimum of four weeks of pay,” according to Kline. They were also given the chance to work part-time for Follett. $2.7 billion was Follett’s annual revenue in 2013.

Follett Book Fairs is now a part of Literati

Literati have acquired Follett Book Fairs. It’s an online book club and subscription book box business based in Austin, Texas. The book fairs will now go by Literati Book Fairs and still serve PreK–8 schools nationwide.

One hundred eighty fairs made up the initial launch of the events in 2017 before they quickly grew. Follett had approximately 5,700 fairs scheduled for its most recent operating year, the 2019–2020 academic year. However, 2,000 of those fairs had been postponed due to COVID-19 by the end of March 2020. 

Follett decided to shut down the company officially in September 2021. It’s because it wouldn’t host any fairs after November 15, 2021, since it couldn’t afford the losses brought on by the pandemic. Altogether, Follett Book Fairs hosted 7,500 events.

Along with buying the brand, Literati is also purchasing inventory. It utilized three existing fulfillment sites (in Dallas, Redlands, California, and Elgin, Illinois). It retained 23 employees, including senior management employees.

The excellent quality of the product, according to Literati’s creator and CEO, Jessica Ewing, was an attraction for us. “I liked that the fair emphasized books rather than toys or other non-book items. It’s because their product was of high quality.”

According to Ewing, Literati will combine the two corporate cultures, including inventory. Literati has focused on providing a very diversified variety of children’s publications, from minor to small. 

Publishing businesses. But now Follett’s titles are more aimed toward popular books for general audiences. “We’ll combine the best of both worlds at the fairs,” she added.

An investment group acquired Follett

The corporate entity and higher education division of Follett Corporation were sold to a group of private investors. In February 2022, it was headed by Jefferson River Capital LLC (JRC).

JRC has completely reorganized the company’s top management due to the acquisition. Ryan Petersen, vice president of strategy and development at VitalSource Technologies, has been designated FHE’s new president. Emmanuel Kolady, senior vice president and head of stores for the eastern part of CVS Retail, has been named CEO.

JRC stated that Kolady’s “omnichannel expertise is rooted in innovation” when announcing the appointments. Customer feedback will be vital in guiding the expansion of this already successful business.

Petersen’s inspiring work will also drive the expansion of Follett Access and the business’s broader digital transformation. This is going to be executed through accessible programs across higher education.

In a statement, Kolady said, “The education sector has seen major changes over the past few years. I foresee Follett’s role evolving to meet our customers’ and business partners’ constantly shifting demands. This will guarantee academic success.”

In North America, FHE runs more than 1,100 physical and 1,750 online collegiate retail outlets where it sells course materials and goods. It was the last of the three companies that Follett Corp. owned. Follett sold Francisco Partners its Follett School Solutions division in August 2021. Baker & Taylor was sold to an investor group headed by B&T CEO Aman Kochar in November 2021.

The primary office of FHE is going to stay in Westchester, Illinois. The deal will transfer all active Follett Corporate and FHE employees.

The Follett family stated in a news release that they had loved being active in the education industry. Also, they would continue to do so through the Follett Educational Foundation.

Helena B. Foulkes was named executive chairwoman of Follett Higher Education Group Inc.’s board of directors in early 2023.

According to Sources on the Internet, Follett announced a reorganization of bookshop labor in March 2023. This included many employee layoffs and reclassifications. More details about the releases should have been posted somewhere.


Follett bought Willo Labs in October 2022. When connected to a campus Learning Management System, this technology makes it possible to buy digital course materials. Follett School Solutions purchased Access-It Software in December 2022. It offers a library management system that is employed in K–12 institutions all around the world. With this acquisition, Follett School Solutions has already moved toward shifting from a domestic presence to a more global role.

The largest campus retailer in North America, Follett Higher Education, confirmed a strategic alliance with GreenLight Credentials in May 2023. It serves as the industry’s leading blockchain platform for verified educational certificates. The collaboration will improve the pipeline for professional outcomes and college enrollment.

Under its new ownership structure, a large part of the business activity conducted by the Follett Corporation will continue. The three businesses are positioned to thrive in their different commercial areas. It’s because they are no longer restricted by a family-administered business’s more cautious and debt-averse rules. We are confident that the new investors will concentrate on industries with promising futures and drop others. This trend is evident in Follett School Solutions’ departure from used textbook markets and book fairs.

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