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Layoffs at Printronex Signal a Retrenchment After Drop in Earnings

January 26, 1985|BRUCE HOROVITZ | Times Staff Writer

With the demand for computer-related products continuing to wane, Printronix Inc. late last week laid off 189 workers--nearly one sixth of its work force--as part of corporate restructuring, the company said Friday.

Most of those laid off by the Irvine-based manufacturer of computer printers were assembly workers, but a handful of supervisors were also let go, said Jerry King, Printronix vice president of human resources. Although no further layoffs are planned, King said, he added that "if business doesn't improve, there may be further adjustments necessary." The company's employees currently number slightly over 1,000.

The move is part of a corporate belt-tightening at Printronix that company officials said will result in fewer people producing about the same number of goods. While many other computer firms are waiting to see whether 1985 brings a further downturn, Printronix believes it sees the writing on the wall. With early orders far below expectations, management has decided that now is the time to cut staff.

"There is a diminished demand across the board. We're experiencing what the whole industry is going through," King said. Despite the layoffs, however, the company will soon be recruiting engineers and designers, King said.

One of Printronix's toughest competitors, Dataproducts Inc., Woodland Hills, is taking a wait-and-see attitude before making any work force changes. "There's a real slowdown in the computer industry," said Russell Quinn, the company's chief financial officer. "But we're certainly not looking for any big layoffs."

Blake Downing, an analyst with San Francisco-based Robertson, Colman & Stephens, said that despite the recent job cuts, Printronix is a solid firm that will continue to show profits. "This is hardly a sign of robustness, but the company is still going to make money," he said.

Last week, the company reported its third-quarter earnings declined 30%, to $1.29 million, from profits of $1.84 million in the comparable period a year ago. Sales during the quarter were up 40%.

Printronix, which has seen mostly robust growth over its 10 years in business, said it is trying to place its laid-off workers with other firms in the region. Last April, about 35 workers were laid off from Printronix, and in April, 1983, the company let go 35 employees.

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