Leica cuts 117 jobs, more cuts on the way|
(Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 21:34 EDT)
An email from our good friend Peter Burian, pro photographer and author of numerous digicam-related books, led us to interesting news from German newspaper Frankfurter Runschau (Frankfurt Review) about camera manufacturer Leica.
According to the the article, Leica will be laying off some 117 of the 558 employees at its head office in Solms at the end of April, the plan having originally been announced in February. Leica Chairman of the Board Hanns-Peter Cohn cites an ongoing reduction in consumer spending - particularly on expensive items like the company's cameras - as the cause for the layoffs. Likewise, the trend towards digital photography has caused the company's sales figures to fall.
Leica had apparently been hoping for an improvement in the situation since last July, but decided to reduce its workforce to prevent figures slipping into the red. Further reductions are expected at Leica's locations in Portugal, and both Wetzlar and Braunschweig in Germany, with the overall workforce expected to drop from around 1250 currently to under 1000. Having recorded profits for most of the last five years, the company itself is considered healthy. Cohn apparently sees the sports optics area - currently 40% of the company's total production - as the best avenue for growth, with products such as binoculars, laser range finders and spotting scopes used for hunting or birdwatching still in strong demand.
Employees affected by the Solms layoffs will apparently be given the opportunity to receive 80% of their previous wages for a year whilst retraining for another job.
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