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Republic Won't Open Auto Plant

Used cars: Change of plans for Riverside County reconditioning center is part of broad restructuring.

March 28, 1998|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Republic Industries Inc. said Friday it is canceling plans to open a used-car reconditioning plant in Riverside County this spring, a project that would have employed about 300 people.

The move is part of a broader restructuring. Republic also is closing its Cincinnati reconditioning plant and cutting back production at four others in Texas and Florida.

The giant automobile retailer, which operates the AutoNation USA used-car dealerships, said it will eliminate about 600 positions at the five existing plants. It will transfer most of the workers to other jobs within its huge network of new and used-car facilities.

Florida-based Republic said the cost of the restructuring was included in a previously announced $150-million reserve it set aside in the fourth quarter last year.

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Michael Marone, president of Republic's retail automotive group, said the company will complete construction of a reconditioning center in the Riverside County community of Mira Loma.

The company plans to open it only if new AutoNation dealerships create demand for a centralized reconditioning center. So far, Republic has opened only one of six dealerships it plans to build in Southern California, and that facility, in Irvine, can handle its own reconditioning work, Marone said.

In addition, the company has been obtaining newer used cars than it had anticipated, he said, and doesn't need to do as much of the heavy refurbishing for which the centralized plants were built.

A similar plant under construction in the Atlanta area also will be completed but will remain shuttered for now, Marone said.

The Cincinnati reconditioning plant, which employs 162 people, is being closed, he said, because Republic has put off plans for opening five Chicago area used-car dealerships until the first quarter of 1999.

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