Holiday chill: ECD pink slips 400 Uni-Solar employees in restructuring move

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Energy Conversion Devices will lay off 400 employees from its Uni-Solar unit, some 20% of its combined workforce of more than 1900, as part of what the flexible thin-film solar PV laminate manufacturer calls a “restructuring plan to better align operating expenses with near-term revenue expectations while positioning the company to more efficiently leverage future growth opportunities.”

The company says it expects to create annualized savings of approximately $17 million, with half to be realized in fiscal 2010, once the plan takes effect. It also sees related charges of approximately $9 million occuring in fiscal 2010, including the previously announced restructuring costs related to its acquisition of Solar Integrated Technologies earlier this year.

The restructuring plan will be completed in fiscal 2010, according to ECD.

“We are committed to reducing our cost structure, while still satisfying the increasing demand for our products in the marketplace,” said Mark Morelli, ECD’s president/CEO. “We expect our business will strengthen in the second half of our fiscal year, and these steps should lower our overall operating costs for both the near and long terms, and position our company to better capitalize on growth opportunities in our rooftop solar markets.”

ECD made the announcement after local media outlets reported over the past few days that the company had laid off some of its employees from its Greenville, MI, factory, though the extent of the corporate restructuring plan had remained unclear. In earlier cost-cutting moves, the company shut down some of its production facilities and furloughed workers for a month during May and June.

The pioneering amorphous-silicon thin-film company has been struggling to achieve profitability in the difficult 2009 market conditions, experiencing rising inventories despite production cutbacks while it attempts to reorient its business model downstream to take more advantage of the lucrative project development sector.

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