Kimberly-Clark to cut thousands of jobs, close plants

DALLAS (WBAY) - Kimberly-Clark has announced plans to cut 5,000 to 5,550 jobs in an effort to restructure and save money, the company announced Tuesday during the release of its year-end results and 2018 outlook.

The job cuts amount to 12-13 percent of the company's workforce.

Kimberly-Clark also plans to close or sell 10 manufacturing plants and expand production at other plants.

The company anticipates this plan will generate pre-tax savings of $500-$550 million by the end of 2021.

It's unclear at this time how this would impact the Fox Valley. The company--which produces tissue, toilet paper, and diapers--has facilities and offices across Neenah and Marinette.

"Although we expect market conditions will remain challenging in the near-term, we plan to deliver better results in 2018 while we begin to implement our new restructuring. We expect organic sales to return to growth while improving our margins and delivering double-digit growth in adjusted earnings per share. In addition, we will increase investments in our brands, our growth initiatives and the capabilities we need for long-term success. We will also continue to allocate capital in shareholder-friendly ways," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. Falk.

This announcement comes after a series of layoff announcements at companies in the Fox Valley. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson released a statement calling on lawmakers to take action to preserve manufacturing jobs.

"Today’s announcement must serve as a wake-up call to all elected leaders," Nelson said in a statement. "We cannot and should not stand idle while industry and jobs crumble before our eyes. What will be left in a year, five or ten years? How many plant closures, lay-offs must we sustain before something meaningful is done?"

While Kimberly-Clark says its restructuring plan calls for facility and job cuts, it also plans to expand some existing mills.

Neenah Mayor, Dean Kaufert, believes Northeast Wisconsin is in a good position for that expansion. He says, "The company has put in a lot of dollars over the recent years to update with technology and such in their production facilities. We have a skilled, trained workforce. Other regions of the country may not have those same types of skills and workforce that we have."

The company's announcement is likely to put a lot of workers on edge---even though Anthony Snyder of the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board says the overall economy still favors job seekers.

"If the number is reasonably small we should easily absorb them back into our workforce. We have record low unemployment up and down the 41 corridor. If it's a few hundred, we should no problem welcoming these folks to other jobs," said Snyder.

The year-end report shows that fourth quarter sales for 2017 were $4.6 billion and increased one percent.

The company says it would like to increase its net sales to two percent in 2018.

Kimberly-Clark's brands include Kleenex and Huggies.

Click here to read Kimberly-Clark's full year-end report on 2018 outlook.