Harte-Hanks realignment leads to layoffs, site closure

Direct marketing agency Harte-Hanks Inc. has released just under 1% of its 7,100 employees and will close an East Coast fulfillment center by the end of the year, according to CFO Doug Shepard.

Harte-Hanks is seeking to “realign its operations to better serve customer needs,” Shepard said. He stressed that the moves are not in reaction to the weakening housing market or the overall current economic environment. Instead, the realignment is part of Harte-Hanks’ ongoing efforts to reassess company functions. The moves will allow Harte-Hanks to reallocate expenses to areas customers are paying more attention to and eliminate functions it feels aren’t needed going forward. Shepard declined to be more specific.

The realignment will include shutting down one of the 30 fulfillment centers that the company operates nationwide by the end of the year. The end of the lease on the East Coast facility is approaching and Harte-Hanks has determined it can move the work being done there to other facilities and “more efficiently provide services,” Shepard said.

Shepard also addressed rumors that the company would be shutting down its New York office, which have been circulating since former CEO Richard Hochhauser retired earlier this year and picked up steam with the recent layoffs, as some of the eliminations affected that office. Hochhauser had been based out of the New York office.

“Somewhere in New York, Harte-Hanks will have an office going forward,” Shepard said. With the lease about to expire for its current New York office, the company is currently looking for space that is less expensive, he continued.

At the end of January, Harte-Hanks reported company revenues for the fourth quarter ended December 31 totaled $303 million, down 3.3%. For the year, revenues were down 1.8%. Fourth quarter revenue for The Shoppers advertising circular business was down 15.8%.

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