Citing declining production of its V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and a soft market for commercial helicopters, Bell Helicopter announced plans Tuesday to trim 1,100 jobs from its global workforce, the latest in a series of cutbacks for the Fort Worth-based manufacturer.
In a memo sent to employees, John L. Garrison, president and chief executive officer, said the company had anticipated the commercial market would rebound this year, but that hasn’t happened.
“We must take immediate and aggressive measures across the business to bring costs in line with current and projected business requirements and size our organization for our market reality,” Garrison wrote in his memo.
The company has about 4,600 employees in Fort Worth and 800 in Amarillo, where it does final assembly on the V-22. A spokeswoman said about 700 of the job reductions could occur at those two locations.
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Bell’s commercial helicopter manufacturing is in Mirabel, Canada, where it has about 1,500 employees.
The cost-cutting was announced as Bell’s Rhode Island-based parent, Textron, announced higher first-quarter earnings despite declining performance at Bell.
According to the report, Bell’s profit in the first three months of the year fell by 20 percent, to $76 million, and sales fell about 7 percent to $813 million.
Textron attributed Bell’s steep profit decline to lower volumes of delivered aircraft and “an unfavorable mix of commercial aircraft.”
“While we expected military deliveries would be down at Bell this year, the medium segment of the commercial helicopter market remains soft,” said Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Textron, in a statement. “As a result, we are adjusting production levels and taking additional cost actions to allow Bell to perform within its targeted 2015 segment margin range of 11 to 12 percent.”
Garrison said that the job reductions would apply to all areas of the business, including both management and non-management workers, union and non-union. “Impacted and potentially impacted employees will be notified soon and will be leaving the organization by mid-summer,” he wrote.
Bell is also offering voluntary buyouts to all eligible employees in the United States and Canada. “We recognize that this is difficult news to hear, and we are currently implementing measures to reduce the number of involuntary reductions and provide employees with as much transition time as possible,” Garrison told employees.
About a month ago, Bell said it was trimming 315 jobs, mostly in Fort Worth, as it moved to adjust its costs to reduced revenues. The company announced a series of cutbacks last year, including 320 job reductions in October.
Last year, Bell opened a four-story headquarters in Fort Worth, bringing together 1,100 workers who had been at several locations throughout Tarrant County.
The new building, featuring conference rooms and other modern meeting spaces, was part of a $235 million makeover of its sprawling campus aided by a $13.5 million, 10-year tax incentive package from Fort Worth.
As part of that deal, Bell committed to keep 4,500 employees in Fort Worth through 2023, the company said.
Steve Kaskovich, 817-390-7773