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Springs Global cuts U.S. sales, headquarters staff    

Fort Mill, S.C. -- Springs Global Participacoes this week further consolidated its U.S. operations, eliminating as many as several dozen positions in sales, administrative, support and other white collar jobs.

Fewer than 40 positions were eliminated, mostly from its U.S. headquarters here, according to one person familiar with the situation. The layoffs appear consistent with the company’s stated plans to further consolidate many operations to its Sao Paulo, Brazil, headquarters. Company officials in Brazil said last fall, for example, that it probably would make sense to consolidate some IT and accounting functions.

Speaking to HTT, Tom O’Connor, evp and president of sales and marketing for Springs U.S., declined to specify the number involved in the reduction, but said, “We’re continuing to focus on our three core businesses -- bed, bath and basic -- focusing on our brands and those key customers. We’ve realigned, we’ve made some changes and made some significant reductions.”

“But if we had only one reduction, that would be significant,” O’Connor stressed. “Even one person would be significant to me.”

In recent weeks the company has also closed many of its outlet stores as it continues to refocus its business. Company ceo Josue Gomes da Silva said he expects Springs to return to profitability in Q1 2008, following the shift of all major production out of the United States to Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. The company is also exploring a manufacturing footprint in Asia, including possibly Vietnam, as well as a deal in Europe.

During the third quarter of 2007, Springs reported a net loss of $55.1 million, more than double the loss in the year-ago period, on revenue of $477.1 million, which was off 25.6% (on a constant basis, net of currency fluctuations) -- the result of the transition from U.S. production and disruption caused by the physical moves of equipment.

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