NEW YORK - Responding to slower-than-expected sales, Daewoo Motor America has dismissed most of its U.S. marketing staff.
Although Daewoo declined to say how many people were fired, one of the fired employees estimated about 40 people got pink slips.
Daewoo has about 350 employees, including those stationed at its 22 factory dealerships. An executive declined to give a specific head count at Daewoo's Compton, Calif., headquarters.
Last year Daewoo consolidated its four regional headquarters into a single national headquarters with field offices, but it did not lay off any staff then.
With Daewoo not growing as quickly as expected, it became necessary to cut head count, said Bill Tucker, vice president of marketing and customer relations for Daewoo Motor America, at the New York auto show.
'We wanted to streamline our communications and get the organization down to a size that was equitable with the level of business we are doing,' he said.
Daewoo sold 2,500 cars in the last quarter of 1998 and an estimated 3,000 cars in the first quarter of 1999 at 22 factory stores and 15 independent dealers in 16 states.
Korean executives had said they wanted Daewoo to be selling at an annual rate of 100,000 vehicles by the end of its first year in business, which would be September 1999.
One fired employee said Korean management was frustrated by the company's lack of growth, which triggered the firings.
A Daewoo insider said most of the national marketing budget will now be funneled directly to dealers.