Banta Closes Catalog Plant Despite Record Earnings

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Banta Corp. announced the closing of its catalog production facility in St. Paul, MN, yesterday, citing weak advertising and promotional spending in the direct marketing and publishing industries despite reporting record earnings for 2002.

The plant is "one of Banta's oldest and least efficient print operations," president/CEO Stephanie A. Streeter said in a statement. Banta's catalog production operations will be consolidated at its plant in Maple Grove, MN, and other facilities.

The company said it regretted any job loss resulting from the plant closure. The closing date and number of jobs the company expects to cut were not disclosed.

Banta said it expected to incur a one-time charge of $15 million to $18 million involving the closure. The closing is expected to save $8 million to $10 million yearly starting in 2004, plus a small savings expected for the end of 2003.

Given the soft economy, Banta has been examining its operations over the past several months to find ways to improve efficiency, Streeter said. However, excluding the cost of the plant closure and other pre-tax one-time charges, Banta achieved net earnings of $60.2 million in 2002, compared with $57.5 million in 2001, 5 percent increase, the company said.

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