Spirit AeroSystems offers employees voluntary layoffs

WICHITA, Kan. | Wichita aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems offered its employees on Monday voluntary layoffs as it grapples with the fallout from the suspension of production for the troubled Boeing 737 Max jetliner.

Chief Executive Officer Tom Gentile told employees in a letter that the voluntary layoffs come as the company lacks “clarity on the timing for resuming MAX production or a firm production rate schedule when it does resume."

The move comes weeks after Boeing announced the suspension of the 737 MAX program.

Gentile said Spirit will likely have to reduce its workforce, although the letter does not say how many jobs will be lost. It warns of “many difficult decisions in the days and weeks ahead,” The Wichita Eagle reported.

The buyouts will be offered to all eligible employees in Wichita as well as those in Tulsa and McAlestar in Oklahoma, consistent with its collective bargaining agreements.

More than half of Spirit’s revenue comes from the production of 737 aircraft components. The 737 Max was grounded worldwide in March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems is the city's largest employer with about 13,000 workers in Wichita and around 1,300 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Spirit AeroSystems is evaluating a range of potential actions to reduce costs due to ongoing uncertainty regarding the 737 MAX,” the company said in a statement. “We do not know how long the pause in production will last, or what the production rate will be when it does resume. Part of our effort includes offering a voluntary layoff program for eligible employees. While no final decisions have been made on additional actions, we remain focused on doing what is in the long-term interests of Spirit, its stockholders and other stakeholders, including employees.”

Pier 1 Imports closing nearly half of stores as sales falter

FORT WORTH, Texas | Pier 1 Imports is closing nearly half its 942 stores as it struggles to draw consumers and compete online.

The home decor company said Monday it is closing up to 450 stores and will also shutter distribution centers. It didn't say where the store closures would occur, but it operates stores in the U.S. and Canada. Pier 1 also plans layoffs at its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

The company didn't say how many workers will be impacted.

The moves had some investors wondering if a bankruptcy filing was imminent. Also Monday, Pier 1 added two members to its board with expertise in corporate restructuring.

Pier 1's shares fell 17% to close at $5.18 Monday. They fell another 8% in extended trading following the announcement of the store closures.

Pier 1 named a new CEO with a background in corporate turnarounds in November. Robert Riesbeck previously served as the company's chief financial officer.

“Although decisions that impact our associates are never easy, reducing the number of our brick-and-mortar locations is a necessary business decision," Riesbeck said Monday in a statement.

Pier 1 said sales in its most recent quarter fell 13% to $358 million as store traffic fell. It reported a net loss of $59 million for the quarter, which ended Nov. 30.

The company — which was founded in California in 1962 — has been trying to revamp its cluttered stores and change its offerings to appeal more to younger customers. But it is struggling to compete with budget-friendly home decor sites like Wayfair.

IKEA to pay $46M in boy's dresser tipover death, lawyers say

PHILADELPHIA | IKEA has agreed to pay $46 million to the parents of a 2-year-old boy who died of injuries suffered when a 70-pound (32-kilogram) recalled dresser tipped over onto him, the family’s lawyers said Monday.

Jozef Dudek, of Buena Park, California, died in 2017 of his injuries, and his parents sued the Swedish home furnishings company in a Philadelphia court in 2018.

In the lawsuit, the Dudeks accused IKEA of knowing that its Malm dressers posed a tip-over hazard and that they had injured or killed a number of children, but that the company had failed to warn consumers that the dressers shouldn't be used without being anchored to a wall. The dresser was recalled in 2016, according to the suit.

The settlement also requires IKEA to meet with the advocacy organization, Parents Against Tip-overs, and broaden its outreach to consumers about the recall of IKEA dressers, according to the Dudek's lawyers, Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig.

The Dudek family will donate $1 million from the settlement to organizations that advocate for more rigorous stability testing for dressers, they said.

In a statement, IKEA said it offered its deepest condolences and is working to address “this very important home safety issue,” including offering consumer education and safety workshops and working to make safer products.

“While no settlement can alter the tragic events that brought us here, for the sake of the family and all involved, we’re grateful that this litigation has reached a resolution,” it said.