Mazda says 107 U.S. employees agree to leave automaker
LOS ANGELES -- More than 100 Mazda employees in the United States have accepted voluntary buyouts as part of the automaker's plan to restructure its money-losing operation here.
According to documents filed with California state officials, 107 Mazda employees will be released July 2. Mazda spokesman Jay Amestoy today confirmed the job cuts.
The employment cuts represent 15 percent of Mazda's U.S. headquarters staff.
Voluntary buyouts were offered to all of Mazda's 701 U.S. employees in early March. The offers included separation pay, a lump-sum payment based on years of service and assistance locating a new job.
In a March 7 memo to employees, Jim O'Sullivan, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, wrote that Mazda is "in the midst of an extremely challenging business environment. It has become necessary for us to reexamine our business to accelerate further cost improvements."
Mazda's operating losses in North America widened to 40.3 billion yen, or $505 million at current exchange rates, in the fiscal year that ended March 31, from a 31.7 billion yen operating loss, or $397 million, the prior fiscal year.
Along with the job cuts, Mazda is reorganizing its business structure in the United States. The new organization starts May 16.
O'Sullivan said in the memo that involuntary layoffs could follow the buyouts, should Mazda fail to achieve its cost-cutting goals with the voluntary buyouts.
Mazda spokesman Jay Amestoy said it's unclear whether the involuntary layoffs are needed. The reorganization must be completed first, he said.
Should additional layoffs occur, Mazda will begin notifying affected employees on May 29. Those employees will work through August 3, according to the memo.
The changes are part of a broader global restructuring currently underway at Mazda that CEO Takashi Yamanouchi has called a "spectacular structural transformation encompassing r&d, production, sourcing, sales and all other business areas, for the first time in its 90-year history."
Said Yamanouchi: "It's a must-win situation. That's how important it is."
Mazda Motor Corp.'s fiscal fourth-quarter net profit fell to 5.1 billion yen ($63 million) from 9.9 billion yen a year ago. And during the automaker's last fiscal year, losses widened by 60 billion yen to 107 billion yen ($1.3 billion).
The automaker suffered from slumping global sales, high R&D costs and a heavy reliance on exports that makes it especially vulnerable to the profit-killing strength of the Japanese yen.
Mazda's U.S. sales are up 22 percent this year to 103,529 through April.
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