Panasonic Corp. plans to cut the number of staff at its head offices by 3,500 people, roughly halving its central workforce.
The reduction, which will be completed as early as this fiscal year, will be achieved through transfers to group companies and voluntary retirements, sources said.
Panasonic’s head offices, including its sites in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, and Tokyo, have 4,000 employees in administrative divisions, 2,000 in research and development divisions and 1,000 in production technology divisions. Many of the 7,000 head office employees work in Osaka Prefecture.
Panasonic plans to streamline patent management, quality control and other businesses that overlap with functions of companies such as Sanyo Electric Co. and the former Panasonic Electric Works Co. that have been brought into the Panasonic group, the sources said. Panasonic will reassign employees in its head offices to the group companies. It is also considering spinning off the research and development divisions as separate companies.
The voluntary retirement program will target several hundred older employees. Panasonic plans to talk with its labor unions on the conditions for early retirement and will solicit applicants in the second half of this fiscal year.
The electronics giant implemented voluntary retirement programs for its employees, including staff in its head offices, in fiscal 2001. That earlier program, however, failed to drastically reduce the number of employees at the head offices.
In the year that ended in March 2012, Panasonic suffered a net loss of 772.1 billion yen (about $9.7 billion), the largest in its history. It reduced the number of workers in sluggish business divisions, such as production of flat-panel televisions, and sold part of Sanyo’s household appliances division to China's Haier Group.
Those programs were partly responsible for an overall reduction of 30,000 in the total number of its group employees to 330,000. Panasonic hopes that the downsizing and restructuring of the head offices will allow it to post a net profit of 50 billion yen in fiscal 2012.
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