(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is eliminating a small number of roles within its corporate retail teams, according to people with knowledge of the matter, marking its first known internal job cuts since it embarked on a belt-tightening effort last year. 

The company is shedding positions in what it calls its development and preservation teams, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the move hasn’t been announced. Those groups are responsible for the construction and upkeep of Apple retail stores and other facilities around the world.

While the number of positions being eliminated couldn’t be ascertained and is likely very small, the move represents a new step for the world’s most valuable company, whose peers have been slashing their ranks in the face of a shaky economy and sluggish consumer spending.

Apple is positioning the move as a streamlining effort, rather than layoffs. It told employees that the changes were designed to improve upkeep of stores globally and that the company will provide support to affected workers.

The iPhone maker has largely held off on corporate layoffs, even as it trims budgets and pares back much of its contractor workforce, including on-contract engineers, recruiters and security guards. The company previously cut corporate jobs before the pandemic, when it eliminated a couple hundred members of its self-driving car division.

With the latest move, Apple told employees in those groups that they would have the ability to reapply for a number of roles similar to their prior jobs. Those who don’t take a new role will get as much as four months of pay, the people said.

A representative for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment.

Some management roles are also being eliminated. While those employees could be rehired as so-called individual contributors, they may not have the same compensation, according to the people. In a few instances, some employees are exempt and will keep their jobs without needing to reapply.

Apple had 164,000 employees as of September, when its last fiscal year ended. The company didn’t expand its workforce as quickly as many big tech companies during the pandemic, decreasing the need for major layoffs. Its peers, including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, have cut tens of thousands of jobs.

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