Center in Glen Burnie to close

Panasonic to lay off 100 workers, shut warehouse in April

January 16, 2002|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Panasonic Company East, a regional sales company of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co., will lay off 100 workers and close its Glen Burnie warehouse in mid-April, transferring operations to a facility in Suwanee, Ga.

Employees of the Glen Burnie office, which opened in Anne Arundel County in 1984 as a sales administration and distribution center for the mid-Atlantic region, will be offered a severance package based on years of service, company officials said.

The closure and layoffs are part of an effort started last year by Tokyo-based parent company Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. - known best for its Panasonic consumer brand in the United States - to reduce costs, trim 10,000 workers and restructure operations around the world.

"It is true that in the Baltimore area, we are closing our Glen Burnie sales office and warehouse," said Jim Reilly, spokesman for Panasonic. "We're very autonomous here, but we are trying our best to streamline the company."

Matsushita announced last week that it will convert its five group companies into wholly owned subsidiaries and will spend up to $757 million to repurchase its own shares, which closed at $12.68 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange, down 37 cents.

Hurt by the poor economy and competition, Matsushita is forecasting a loss of $2 billion for this fiscal year. The parent company had offered thousands of voluntary early retirement packages to employees last year, Reilly said.

"Over 400 employees took advantage of that program, but at this time, we have determined that additional steps needed to be taken," Reilly said. "This includes reassigning some employees, terminating some positions and making changes to the organization and structure of the company. Nationwide, 360 employees are affected by the layoffs."

Sales representatives in the mid-Atlantic region who work mostly out of their homes will not be affected by the closure or layoffs.

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