Sunbeam Corp.'s new management reversed decisions made by former chairman "Chain Saw" Al Dunlap, sparing factories and planning to keep businesses previously intended for sale. However, the news came too late for a sleeping bag plant in Cedar City, Utah.
Jerry Levin replaced Dunlap, who was ousted in June after failing to boost Sunbeam's flagging shares even after big job cuts. During a conference call with analysts and shareholders Monday, Levin announced plans to keep Sunbeam's appliances plant in Acuna, Mexico, Coleman's plants in Maize, Kan., and Pocola, Okla., and the First Alert fire extinguisher plant in Aurora, Ill."We're a small town and we really need that plant," said Pat Fulmer, deputy town clerk in Pocola. The plant there employs 124 people.
In all, Dunlap had planned to cut 6,400 jobs as Sunbeam acquired the Coleman, First Alert and Mr. Coffee brands. The Wall Street Journal reported in Tuesday's editions that Levin's plan will eliminate 2,300 jobs.
Sunbeam no longer wants to sell Coleman's Eastpak backpacks and Powermate's compressor businesses, Levin said. He also mentioned plans to try to sell some companies' surplus through Coleman's already established outlet stores.
"Although we still have much to do in the short term to stabilize Sunbeam's businesses, our strategic focus is on growth," Levin said during the conference call.
The Delray Beach-based company has seen its stock plummet in the past year - going from a high of $53 to as low as $5.12 - after acquiring the Mr. Coffee, First Alert and Coleman brands in May. It closed up 25 cents Monday at $8.811/4 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company said Monday it no longer will pay its quarterly dividend of 1 cent per share.
The decision by Sunbeam's board to fire Dunlap set off a wave of scrutiny of the consumer-products giant. Shareholder lawsuits challenged the accuracy and integrity of its 1997 financial statements audit; the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the company's accounting; and Sunbeam began a review of its own finances.
Levin, who joined Sunbeam from Coleman, refused Monday to discuss second-quarter results or the status of its audit. But he did vehemently deny reported rumors of a planned bankruptcy.