Packard Bell to lay off 200 staff

Desperate dash back to profitability continues

Ailing PC vendor Packard Bell is to axe 200 jobs from its US service and support centre. The operation, located in Magna, Utah, employs 900 people -- the 22 per cent cut will take place across the board, the company said. The move comes as PB's parent, NEC, is increasingly concerned over its subsidiary's poor financial performance, a concern that recently culminated in a statement by NEC president Kouji Nishigaki that PB would be sold off or shut down if it didn't start showing an improvement, pronto. PB VP of corporate communications Ron Fuchs told US newswires that the company was on track to cut its losses to $100 million this year, down from around $500 million, after hacking costs by 42 per cent last year. The company has lost money for the last three years running, largely as budget-priced PCs have badly eroded its marketshare, particularly in the US -- all very ironic, given PB achieved its initial success undercutting the likes of Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Now it's trying to step up to the high end, largely with an iMac-esque NEC-branded $2500 system, the Z1 (see Packard Bell looks to iMac clone for survival). PB's support and service centre staff will be told on Friday who is for the chop and who isn't. Fuchs claimed the job cuts would not affect the level of support PB offers its customers. ®

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