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Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp. has announced that it will cut 5,000 jobs — nearly 10 percent of the company’s workforce in North America and Europe — and closing a refrigerator factory in Arkansas.
Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, MI, said it plans to shut its Fort Smith, AR plant by mid-2012 and consolidate production from that facility at its other North American manufacturing sites. Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig blamed the job cuts on weak demand and higher costs. “[During the third quarter], we experienced weaker than expected demand and elevated material costs,” he said, citing “recessionary demand levels” in developed countries and a slowdown in emerging markets.
The appliance giant also will be consolidating some of its European manufacturing, shifting production from Germany to Poland in January.
The job cuts and manufacturing consolidations are expected to save Whirlpool approximately $400 million annually by the end of 2013. The company also is raising prices on its products as part of an overall strategy to widen profit margins.
Whirlpool cut 440 jobs in 2008 at its factory near Amana, IA.