MOLINE, Ill. – Farm equipment maker Deere & Co. said Monday it will close or sell several plants and cut 1,975 more jobs, bringing total layoffs to 3,225, as it struggles to boost profits in tough economic conditions.
The company will leave its unprofitable Homelite consumer products business and restructure its construction and forestry division. It plans to take a $150 million charge, primarily in the fiscal fourth quarter, as a result.
Deere's latest actions add to its previously announced plans to cut 1,250 jobs, or 8 percent of its salaried workers, through an early retirement program. Combined, the two programs will cut 7.3 percent, or 3,225 positions, of the company's total workforce.
``These actions send a clear signal that we are not content to simply wait for the economy to improve in order to make our businesses more profitable,'' chief executive Robert Lane said in a statement.
Deere shares fell 13 cents to $43.82 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares have outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index by about 6 percent so far this year.
The company said most of the cuts will come in its Homelite consumer business, which makes blowers, trimmers and chainsaws. It plans to continue selling professional hand-held and portable power equipment for commercial users through its dealer network.
Homelite, which Deere purchased in 1994, has not been profitable for some time. It lost $70 million in 2000 and $30 million through the first nine months of the current fiscal year.
Deere said it is discussing selling Homelite and hopes to close a deal by the end of October. It plans to sell its Chihuahua, Mexico, plant, which has 1,200 employees, and close some or all of its operations in Greer and Columbia, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina, affecting 475 employees.
Another 300 jobs will be eliminated in Deere's construction and forestry division. Most of the cuts will be made in its worldwide marketing and manufacturing staffs, including the closure of its Atlanta, Georgia, office. It also will close a forestry equipment factory in Bessemer, Alabama, and sell or shut down a fabrication operation in Woodstock, Ontario. Other activities at Woodstock will continue.