Follett Layoffs 2023: what you need to know

Follett Corporation is known for providing educational products to schools and public libraries. Follett is based in Westchester, Illinois. Recently, the firm has yet to announce layoffs. Notably, the last layoffs reported at Follett date back to 2013. At that time, its division, Follett Higher Education Group, had to inform nearly 10% of its 6,000 employees about impending layoffs.

Historically, Follett has faced challenges that led to difficult decisions regarding its workforce. Due to these challenges, Follett made this move. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind Follett’s past layoffs, examine their impact on employees, and gain deeper insights into the company’s experiences. So, let’s get started!

Did Follett Lay Off Employees?

Follett Higher Education Group is a part of the Follett Corporation in Illinois. It runs over 980 campus bookstores at colleges and universities throughout the country. On November 8, 2013, they had to tell their employees some tough news. They said they were changing how they staffed their stores to have more people working when students were shopping the most. They had to lay off 570 full-time employees at 400 stores immediately to do this. This news left employees baffled at that time.

In a memo sent to all 6,000 employees in Follett’s Higher Education Group, Bob Scholl, who’s in charge of retail operations, explained. “Why did they have to do this?”. He said it was needed to make customers happier and to help Follett grow in the future. Follett planned to hire more part-time workers and fewer full-time workers. So that they could match the new shopping trends of students, they wanted to have more staff during busy times, which was less predictable than before.

Bob Scholl mentioned. “These workforce reductions were just one piece of a larger transformation occurring within Follett. They’ve invested more than $200 million in technology. Besides, in distribution, digital content, and online sales in the past. This shows how they’re trying to adapt to the changing times.”

Tom Kline, a Follett Corporation’s River Grove corporate headquarters spokesperson, explained. “The full-time layoffs specifically targeted stores that didn’t align with the company’s desired staffing ratio. According to Kline, this ratio aims for 80% part-time employees and 20% full-time employees in campus bookstores.” 

All laid-off employees informed before layoffs were given a cash severance payment. “A minimum of four weeks of pay,” Kline said, and were also offered part-time positions with Follett.

Follett Corporation was founded in 1873. It had employed a total of approximately 10,000 employees in 2013. As of 2013, the company’s annual revenues were $2.7 billion. Mary Lee Schneider, former president of digital solutions and chief technology officer at R.R. Donnelley. She was named the company’s CEO at that time.

About Follett Corporation

Follett Corporation, located in Westchester, Illinois. It is a company that provides educational products to schools and public libraries.

Follett started in 1873 when Charles M. Barnes opened a used book store in Wheaton, Illinois. Later, he moved to Chicago. He used to sell new and used textbooks, stationery, and school supplies.


Charles Wolcott Follett joined in 1901. Later, the company evolved into a wholesaler selling used books across the Midwest. In 1908, it became C. M. Barnes-Wilcox Company; in 1917, C. W. Follett became a shareholder.

In 1924, C. W. Follett took over and renamed it J. W. Wilcox & Follett Company. Later, The Follett Publishing Company was founded by Dwight in 1925. In 1930, R. D. Follett started the Follett College Book Company.

By 1957, it became Follett Corporation. In the mid-1970s, Dwight prepared for retirement, and Dick Litzsinger became president. Dwight retired in 1979, and Robert J. R. Follett became chairman.

1994 Robert J. R. Follett retired, and Dick Traut took over. In 1997, Ken Hull was elected president, the first non-family member to hold that position.

2000, Christopher Traut became CEO, and in 2010, Chuck Follett took over. The Follett School and Library Group was established in 2011.

In 2012, Mary Lee Schneider became president and CEO. Todd Litzsinger followed it as chairman in 2014. In 2022, Follett was acquired by an investment group.

In 2023, Helena B. Foulkes was appointed executive chairwoman. Later, Follett announced a realignment of bookstore labor.

Recent Events

In the 2010s, Follett focused on e-commerce, digital offerings, and text rentals. In 2013, they laid off 570 bookstore employees. Ray A. Griffith became president and CEO in 2015, and Follett was acquired in 2022.

Now, in 2023, they’ve made changes to their bookstore staffing. These changes were to serve their customers better.

Reasons for Follett Layoffs 

Follett Corporation, like many businesses, faced challenges that necessitated cost-cutting measures. This led to the elimination of certain jobs and the furloughing of some employees. These tough decisions were made to ensure the company’s financial stability. Or to ensure the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. They had to make tough choices to keep the company running smoothly.

Layoffs are always difficult for the affected employees. Many individuals lost their jobs and had to seek new sources of income. These sudden changes created uncertainty for those affected and their families as they navigated the challenges of finding new employment.

Follett Corporation didn’t take these layoffs lightly. They recognized the need to support their remaining employees and improve the situation. The company implemented strategies to streamline its operations. Or to remain competitive in the ever-evolving educational landscape.

Looking Forward

Layoffs are tough, but sometimes they’re needed for a company’s survival. Follett Corporation had to do this to ensure they could keep going in the long run. Follett will adapt and find new ways to succeed as the education industry changes.

In short, Follett Corporation’s recent layoffs were a response to the challenges they faced. It was hard for those affected, but the company had to make these tough choices for its future. Follett will remain a key player in the educational products and services field as they move forward.

Follett Corp Partnered with GreenLight for Postsecondary Equity

Follett Higher Education is the largest campus retailer in North America. In May 2023, it announced a significant partnership with GreenLight Credentials. GreenLight Credential is a leading platform for verified educational credentials using blockchain technology. This collaboration aimed to simplify the academic journey for students. It allowed them better control over their academic records and connections with colleges and potential employers.

President of Follett Higher Education, Ryan Petersen, emphasized increasing equity and affordability in higher education. This partnership goes beyond affordable course materials. It also focuses on empowering students to manage their transcripts and credentials. Ensuring they can pursue future educational and job opportunities.

GreenLight Credentials provides a centralized platform for students to own and manage their credentials and academic records from secondary and postsecondary institutions. It enables secure sharing of digital transcripts with colleges, universities, and employers. Additionally, it simplifies how colleges engage with high school students based on their academic interests and transcripts. Ultimately reducing recruitment costs and boosting postsecondary enrollment.

Manoj Kutty, CEO of GreenLight Credentials, highlighted the platform’s ability to help students. So that they can build a lifelong educational record securely, supporting their academic and career goals. The partnership aimed to ease school administrative burdens, level the playing field for students, and equip them with the tools needed to succeed academically and beyond.

The GreenLight Credentials platform is now available to Follett Higher Education institutional partners as part of this collaboration. Starting this fall, it will be integrated into many of Follett’s equitable access programs. Follett Higher Education also becomes a minority equity holder of GreenLight Credentials. It exclusively partners as the platform’s higher education retail partner. Furthermore, Follett and GreenLight Credentials intended to offer the platform free of charge to K -12 districts. So that it can contribute to enrollment at Follett higher education institutions using the GreenLight Credentials platform.

Is Follett A Good Company?

Follett’s employee rating is 3.0 out of 5, based on more than 65 anonymous employee reviews. About 34% of employees recommend working at Follett. Moreover, around 26% felt positive about the company’s future. This rating improved slightly by 1% in the past year.

Who Are The Competitors Of Follett?

Follett has several competitors in the educational and publishing industry. Some of these competitors include:

  • The Franklin Mint has $7.2 million in revenue.
  • Scholastic with a massive revenue of $1.6 billion and 8,900 employees.
  • Chronicle Books, earning $75.0 million in revenue with 100 employees.
  • Macmillan is a big player with $1.4 billion in revenue and 20 employees.
  • Goodreads, making $5.0 million in revenue with 279 employees.
  • Candlewick Press, generating $13.0 million in revenue with 85 employees.
  • The Authors Guild has $5.0 million in revenue and 42 employees.
  • Henry Holt & Company, earning $15.9 million in revenue with 74 employees.

These are some of the companies that Follett competes within the industry. Follett’s annual revenue is $3.2 billion, with peak revenue also hitting $3.2 billion in 2022. They have around 7,500 employees, and each employee contributes to about $426,666 in revenue. 


In Conclusion, Follett’s layoffs, while tough, were necessary to secure the company’s future. These steps were taken in response to challenges, ensuring its long-term survival. Although it was hard on affected employees, Follett must adapt to the changing education landscape. The company is committed to finding new ways to succeed down the road. Despite the difficulties brought about by the layoffs,

Follett continues to play a significant role in educational products and services.