330 jobs cut as Borders reorganizes PR division

ANN ARBOR, MI: Borders Group is reorganizing its community relations and grassroots PR operations, cutting 330 store-based community relations coordinators.

ANN ARBOR, MI: Borders Group is reorganizing its community relations and grassroots PR operations, cutting 330 store-based community relations coordinators.

The store-level PR people are being replaced by 72 regional coordinators and 10 national events specialists. The changes are the result of an 18-month organizational study that the bookstore chain will publicly discuss in detail when it releases earnings March 15.

Anne Roman, VP of corporate affairs, said the changes resulted from a desire to better coordinate activities at various stores, not because of any need to cut staffing costs.

'We've determined that we would be better served and our communities would be better serviced with 72 area market managers,' she said.

As the company expanded in recent years, it put a community relations person in each location to schedule author visits and other events. But now that it has achieved critical mass in major markets, Borders wants to coordinate such activities on a marketwide basis. 'There are obvious efficiencies,' she said. Being able to publicize an author's appearance at one store across a region should ensure larger turnouts, for example, and regional coordination will give the chain more clout in cutting appearance deals with authors.

The 336-store chain has a headquarters PR staff of six that handles everything from IR to internal communications. It also works with a Toledo PR firm that Roman was an owner of until she joined Borders in September.

Borders has already warned Wall Street analysts that it expects to report flat earnings in the range of dollars 1.22-dollars 1.24 a share for its fourth quarter.

The company reported earnings of dollars 1.23 a share in the fourth quarter of 1999.

The bookseller also is expected to report two charges in the fourth quarter associated with closing its All Wound Up toy stores and various Web activities.

Borders plans to open between 25 and 30 new stores this year and has predicted earnings will rise to dollars 1.38-dollars 1.40 a share compared with expected overall 2000 earnings of dollars 1.20-dollars 1.22 a share.

Borders is the second largest operator of book superstores and the largest operator of mall-based bookstores in the world. In addition to its Borders stores, it runs Waldenbooks, Books Etc. in the United Kingdom and its online operations at Borders.com.

The company is planning to buy back up to dollars 60 million of its common stock this year, a move that should help its share price in the current weak market.

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