Hill-Rom streamlining to eliminate 300 jobs-WEB ONLY

Batesville hospital equipment manufacturer Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. said today it could cut about 300 jobs from its U.S. operations as it realigns the business to cut costs.

The company in August announced plans to lay off 160 workers across its global operations, including 50 at its southern Indiana headquarters.

In a news release, Hill-Rom said it was taking a number of steps to “more aggressively manage the company’s cost structure,” including consolidating manufacturing and administrative operations, reducing discretionary spending in areas not related to sales or research and development, and reducing its staff.

As many as 450 employees could be affected by the changes, but the company said some of those jobs will be preserved. Eligible employees are being offered early retirement buyouts, and the rest of the cuts will come through layoffs.

Hill-Rom plans to move production from the company’s Charleston, S.C., facility to its Batesville plant and to some outside suppliers. But the Batesville operation also will lose jobs because of lowered demand and productivity enhancements.

Company spokeswoman Lauren Green-Caldwell said about 170 of its 2,100 Batesville-based employees will be affected.

The company said affected employees will receive severance packages, including health care benefits and outplacement services.

Hill-Rom expects to save $12 million-$14 million a year as a result of the reorganization, approved yesterday by the company’s board of directors.

Also today, Hill-Rom announced first-quarter revenue of $350 million, an increase of 2.6 percent compared to the same period in the last fiscal year. But North America capital sales declined 10.3 percent, it said, “reflecting the significant and rapid contraction in provider capital budgets.”

Hill-Rom is scheduled to report full first-quarter financial results Feb. 5.

The reorganization is expected to result in a $7 million-$10 million charge in the second and third quarters, and Hill-Rom said additional special charges are possible.

“The balance we have sought to build into our business helped us achieve a solid sales outcome for the quarter, in spite of the weakening we observed during the last half of the quarter,” CEO Peter H. Soderberg said in a statement. “As other firms and analysts have reported, we are seeing, and expect to continue to see, material reductions in capital spending by U.S. hospitals.”

Hill-Rom was part of Batesville-based Hillenbrand Industries Inc. until April 1, when Hillenbrand spun off its casket-making business. That kept the Hillenbrand name.

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