BlackBerry lays off 250 in product testing office

BlackBerry Ltd. is laying off more employees as Canada’s once-dominant smartphone maker continues to look for ways to trim costs amid its turnaround efforts.

A total of 250 employees at the company’s New Product Testing Facility in Waterloo were given notice earlier this week, in a move that was first reported by CTV News. The facility supports BlackBerry’s manufacturing, research and development efforts.

For BlackBerry, the layoffs are simply the latest attempt by the embattled smartphone maker to reduce its workforce — the company has slashed more than 7,000 jobs since 2011 — as it seeks to restructure itself in order to better compete with rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Last year, BlackBerry cut 5,000 jobs as part of the company’s CORE (cost optimization and resource efficiency) program, which was implemented by chief executive Thorsten Heins and was designed to cut US$1-billion in costs from the company’s balance sheet.

“This is part of the next stage of our turnaround plan to increase efficiencies and scale our company correctly for new opportunities in mobile computing,” a spokesperson for BlackBerry said in an email to the Financial Post.

“We will be as transparent as possible as those plans evolve.”

Shares of BlackBerry rose 0.33%, or $0.03, Thursday afternoon to $9.03.

Investors sent shares of BlackBerry into a tailspin late last month after the Waterloo, Ont.-based company revealed that it had swung to a loss in the most recent quarter, amid slow sales of its new BlackBerry smartphones.

Despite launching the new BlackBerry 10 operating system earlier this year, BlackBerry is still struggling to compete with Apple’s iPhone and devices running on Google Inc.’s Android software.

Even Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Corp., responsible for the also struggling Windows Phone platform, have managed to keep BlackBerry’s latest phones at bay.

“They expected certain revenue level, they got a lower revenue level, and now they have to adjust,” said Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek.

“Unfortunately it means people are going to lose their jobs, and pain for the Kitchener-Waterloo area.”

Last June, BlackBerry laid off 5,000 employees as part of the CORE restructuring efforts – the largest single round of layoffs in the company’s history, and even deeper than the 2,000 employees that were cut in July 2011.

At the company’s annual general meeting earlier this month, CEO Thorsten Heins told shareholders that BlackBerry is in the midst of a “complex transition.”

Mr. Heins told the crowd at the AGM that despite recent challenges BlackBerry has moved beyond the first phase of its comeback plan, and is entering a phase that will see fiscal 2014 as a year of investment and growth for the company.

Mr. Heins added that even though BlackBerry is likely to experience bumps along the way — including a projected loss for the current quarter — he is looking to position the company for growth by the end of fiscal 2015.

He encouraged investors to remain patient while the company navigates its plan to become profitable again. source :

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