Friday, January 14, 2011

Consolidation in Office Furniture Industry Continues into 2011

Capacity reduction appears to be the theme for 2011 as major players in the manufacturing and distribution side of the office furniture industry continue to "right-size" their organizations.

Published reports this week detail that Steelcase Inc. plans to close three manufacturing facilities in North America (two in the mid-west and one in Canada), resulting in approximately 750 layoffs. There is speculation that some of the jobs (including the manufacturer of the high end Leap chair), could be moving south to Steelcase plants in Mexico.

Last week United Stationers, an office furniture and office supply wholesale distributor, announced a series of "Workforce Realignment Actions". These "actions" include a "voluntary early retirement program", and a "focused realignment in certain areas of the company". No further details were provided, however "Workforce Realignment Actions" seems like a nice euphemism for layoffs.

From the sidelines it seems a bit late in the cycle to be making these types of major operational changes...