Disney CEO Bob Chapek Promises COVID-19 Furlough Employees Will Be “Back To Work” Eventually

Facing the crushing consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the Walt Disney Company couldn’t sugarcoat the decline bottom line in its second-quarter earnings today, but newly minted CEO Bob Chapek asked the company to tough it out.

Noting the “very difficult decision” last month to furlough tens of thousands of workers with cinemas closed and theme parks locked, Chapek said Tuesday that he and the House of Mouse “are fully committed to getting our employees back to work.”

When that return to work will occur, Chapek would not say being that the coronavirus situation is still quite fluid and stay-at-home orders in effect in hard hit states like California and New York. “It was not an easy decision, but it was the right one,” the CEO added of the call to hit the pause button starting on April 19 on employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time.”

In his first earnings call in the top job, Chapek made a very distinct point of stating that furloughed employees are still covered by their company health care, which Disney is paying.

Flying the flag of fighting on, Bob Iger’s successor reiterated his now executive chairman and predecessor’s comments on the call today that “Disney is an exceptionally resilient company.”

Since the global health crisis slammed the economics of entertainment and media companies, as it did everyone else earlier this spring, Disney saw its stock take a big hit. The blows proved to have all the more sting on Tuesday when the Q2 reports revealed profits to have cratered 91% from last year.

“These are uncertain times,” proclaim CFO Christine McCarthy on today’s call with analysts. “Our people and our business are being impacted hard,” the exec added in no small understatement.

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