Johnson Outdoors plans work force consolidation

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Johnson Outdoors announced Wednesday that it is restructuring the U.S. and European operations of its watercraft brand business and streamlining work at its Maine facility in an effort to improve the profitability of the unit.

The company said the watercraft brands will transition to a lower-cost local independent distributor business model in Europe by the end of this month.

Watercraft brand research and development and marketing will move to Old Town, Maine, from Bellingham, Wash., during the next year, consolidating all U.S. watercraft personnel at one location to quicken the pace of new product development and speed to market, the company said.

Seventeen positions in the United States and 11 in Europe are being eliminated by the actions the company is taking.

"Last fall, we combined Watercraft and Outdoor Gear units to drive progress against a specialty channel growth platform and return watercraft to profitability,” Johnson Outdoors chairman and CEO Helen Johnson Leipold said in a statement. “Today's actions are necessary to best position the business for future success and increase the velocity of meaningful innovation for paddling enthusiasts. We remain committed to building long-term value for our customers and our shareholders and are confident today's actions will help us do so."

The company anticipates that the moves announced Wednesday will save it $2 million annually by the end of fiscal 2014. Costs and charges associated with them are estimated to be between $2 million and $2.5 million and will be incurred during the next 12 months, the company said.

Wisconsin-based Johnson Outdoors designs and makes outdoor gear, including kayaks, flotation devices, marine electronics and diving equipment.

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