DuPont will cut 3,500 positions 650 jobs will be eliminated in the Philadelphia region, mostly near the company's home base of Wilmington.

Posted: April 13, 2004

DuPont Co. said yesterday that it would reduce its workforce by 6 percent, or 3,500 positions, by the end of the year to save $325 million annually.

The Wilmington chemical company, whose products include Corian surfaces, Tyvek house wrap and auto paint, said that about 3,000 positions would be eliminated through severance programs and about 500 through normal attrition. The company also said it would stop using 450 contractors.

Most of the cuts, which are part of a plan announced in December to shave $900 million in annual costs by next year, will take place in North America and Western Europe, with all businesses and types of jobs being affected, the company said.

Company spokesman Clif Webb said that 650 jobs would be eliminated in the Philadelphia region, mostly in the Wilmington area, where DuPont has its world headquarters and major research facilities.

DuPont plans to cut 10 positions at Marshall Laboratory in Philadelphia, where more than 400 work, said David J. Gibson, president of Local 1186 of the International Brotherhood of DuPont Workers.

At DuPont's Chambers Works in Deepwater, Salem County, 30 mechanical and six clerical positions are being cut, said Jim Rowe, president of Pace Local 2-943, which represents 600 hourly workers at the 1,440-acre facility at the base of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Additional nonunion and management employees may also be affected. More than 1,000 work at Chambers.

To cover severance for hourly and management employees, DuPont said it would take a second-quarter charge of 17 cents to 19 cents per share, or about $170 million to $190 million.

DuPont provided details on other efforts to reduced fixed costs. They include slashing $375 million, or 6 percent, from the more than $6 billion it spends annually on contract services, supplies, telecommunications and information technology.

Variable costs are to be reduced by $200 million. That includes $100 million in savings by streamlining its product offerings.

Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Donald D. Carson said in a research note yesterday that he assumed DuPont would realize and retain only about 60 percent of the total $900 million of targeted cost savings.

"DuPont's cost-reduction record has been disappointing until recently, as DuPont was slower than some peers in recognizing the need to significantly reduce its cost footprint," Carson said, "and benefits from restructuring have not been visible on the bottom line."

On a day when most chemical company shares gained ground, DuPont's stock closed at $44.06, up 63 cents, or 1.45 percent.

During the last three years, DuPont has announced 13,400 permanent layoffs, including contractors. After the current round and the sale of its Invista textile and fibers unit are completed, DuPont will be left with 55,000 employees.

Wilmington-based Invista, which is being sold to Koch Industries Inc. for $4.2 billion, employs about 18,000. At the end of 2000, DuPont employed 93,000, including 5,000 with DuPont Pharmaceuticals, which was sold in 2001.

Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

DuPont Cutbacks

Like many major chemical makers, DuPont Co. has steadily trimmed its workforce in recent years to deal with rising costs and shifting markets.

April 2001: It announces 5,300 job cuts, including 1,300 contract workers. Half of the cuts are in DuPont's polyester and nylon divisions.

July 2001: DuPont increases April plan by 1,500 jobs.

April 2002: 2,000 jobs are eliminated in the company's fibers and textiles units.

October 2002: DuPont cuts 650 in the coatings business.

April 2004: It plans to eliminate 3,950 positions, including 450 contractors, companywide.

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