One of the biggest retail real estate owners in the country, Brookfield Properties, is going through a major round of job cuts, CNBC has learned, as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on its business and new leasing activity at its malls dries up.
"While many companies were quick to implement furloughs and layoffs at the onset of the pandemic, we made the conscious decision to keep all our team employed while we gained a better understanding of its longer-term impact on our company," Jared Chupaila, CEO of Brookfield Properties' retail group, said this week in an email to employees, which was obtained by CNBC.
However, he said, the mall owner has now decided to make cuts "to align with the future scale of our portfolio."
Chupaila said the reductions are going to affect roughly 20% of the company's workforce, across both its corporate headquarters and leasing agents in the field. Brookfield Properties' retail division employees about 2,000 people.
Brookfield Properties has more than 170 retail properties in 43 states, according to its website, including Brookfield Place downtown in New York City and Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas. It added a number of malls to its portfolio when it acquired Chicago-headquartered mall owner GGP for $9.25 billion in cash back in 2018.
Brookfield Asset Management's real estate businesses employ roughly 22,000 people globally, according to its latest annual filing, which includes other asset classes like office space.
A representative from Brookfield declined to comment beyond the memo.
The biggest U.S. mall owner, Simon Property Group, furloughed 30% of its workforce in March, as it was forced to temporarily shut its malls nationwide. It also permanently laid off some of its employees at the time.