Archive for Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hallmark to halt production

January 18, 2006

Hallmark Cards is phasing out production of greeting cards in its Leavenworth plant, sending 125 jobs to either Lawrence or Topeka by the end of August.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based greeting card giant told workers at the Eisenhower Road plant of the plans last Wednesday.

"Nobody's going to lose their job, but the work will be going either to Lawrence or Topeka," said Julie O'Dell, Hallmark's public relations director.

A statement from Hallmark said about one-third of the 125 affected workers are from the Lansing-Leavenworth area. The phase-out of the greeting card line in Leavenworth will begin in April and should be completed by the end of August, O'Dell said.

The Leavenworth plant currently employs 625 people, including the 125 employees whose jobs will be relocated. Hallmark will continue to produce partyware and gift wrap in Leavenworth with a work force of 500 people.

"The Leavenworth facility will remain open; 500 people will remain there -- that's the headline," O'Dell said.

Employees being transferred will be offered transition assistance, ranging from mileage payments for commuters to moving assistance for people who choose to relocate their homes, O'Dell said.

The Lawrence plant, which at times has had more than 1,000 employees, also will receive the bulk of the Leavenworth plant's card-production equipment.

Hallmark officials said the moves would have a "negligible effect" on the personal property taxes paid on such equipment in Leavenworth County.

The Lawrence plant already makes all of the company's Shoebox line of cards, and also handles special orders - such as the annual White House holiday card - and others requiring special processes, such as die cutting or foil stamping. The plant also makes ribbon, bows and stickers.

The Leavenworth plant accounts for only 8 percent of Hallmark's annual card production, Hallmark said.

"Consolidating greeting card production ... will make better use of existing capacity, improve asset utilization and increase efficiencies in administrative and support functions," said Ray Powers, operations vice president for manufacturing.

"This initiative is designed to help our company and our manufacturing organization remain competitive in the marketplace."

Hallmark, the world's largest producer of greeting cards, reported consolidated net revenues of $4.4 billion in 2004. The privately held company has 9,900 employees in the United States, including 4,500 at its corporate headquarters at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo.

-- Mark Fagan, business editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, contributed to this report.

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