Harley-Davidson to cut 13% of global workforce
Harley-Davidson Inc. said it would cut about 700 jobs as part of a global overhaul, the latest company to reduce its workforce, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to depress economic activity, APA-Economics reports citing Wall Street Journal.
The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker said Thursday that the restructuring plan, including the job cuts that amount to about 13% of its global workforce, would result in costs of about $42 million in the second quarter. Other companies have also said recently they would shed workers, including Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. Cuts at those and other companies come as coronavirus cases continue to climb across the U.S., prompting people to pull back on activity outside their homes just as some businesses were getting back to work.
"We might see longer periods of depressed employment if these things are permanent," said John Grigsby, an economic researcher at Northwestern University who has studied recent labor-force changes.
Harley-Davidson's sales in its core U.S. market have been falling for years, and the company replaced CEO Matt Levatich earlier this year with Jochen Zeitz, a board member who formerly ran German athletic-apparel maker Puma SE.
Mr. Zeitz has slowed the introduction of some new motorcycles that Harley-Davidson has designed to appeal to younger riders. The company reopened its factories after closures related to the pandemic some weeks ago at lower production levels, reflecting pressures including lower demand for motorcycles. Harley-Davidson said the layoffs are part of the larger strategic rethinking and not a response to the coronavirus impact on the economy.
Harley-Davidson said that its move to a leaner organization requires about 700 fewer jobs across its global operations and that it expects roughly 500 employees to leave the company through layoffs or other means by the end of the year. The company employs about 5,600 workers globally.
Harley-Davidson said Chief Financial Officer John Olin, a company veteran who held that role since 2009, has departed the company as part of the changes. The company said Vice President and Treasurer Darrell Thomas would serve as interim CFO until a successor is named.
Harley-Davidson said it would discuss its plans to overhaul the company in detail when it reports earnings later this month. The company's shares rose 0.6% to $25.75.
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