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Future Of Paris Kimberly-Clark Plant In Doubt

Kimberly-Clark plans to close about 10 of its production facilities, but the company isn't saying which ones will be sold or shut down.
Kimberly-Clark plans to close about 10 of its production facilities, but the company isn't saying which ones will be sold or shut down.

The future of the Kimberly-Clark plant in Paris was thrown into doubt this week by an announcement from the corporation that it plans to sell or close about 10 of its manufacturing facilities. Irving-based Kimberly-Clark announced on Jan. 23 that it also plans to lay off 5,000 employees as part of an overhaul designed to reduce its workforce by about 13 percent.

The Paris facility, which produces Huggies diapers and other products, employs about 900 people. Kimberly-Clark is not saying what lies in store for the Paris plant or any other individual locations.

"The company is not providing specifics on the status of any of our production facilities or the proposed job reductions, beyond what is detailed in our press release, until final decisions are made and announced," the Kimberly-Clark media relations department said in a statement.

"The timing of those announcements will be determined by the needs of the business and appropriate consultation and/or negotiations with unions, works councils and other labor stakeholders," the company said.

Kimberly-Clark says its operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2017 was $812 million, down from $839 million in 2016. Total profits from 2017 for the company were close to $3.3 billion, also down slightly from 2016.

Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk cited "a challenging environment" in the statement, which also said that the company will expand production capacity at several other sites. So, the Paris facility could be shuttered, downsized, or possibly expanded.

On its website, Kimberly-Clark says that it currently employs 42,000 people in 35 countries and that "nearly one-quarter of the world's population purchase our products every day." The company’s popular brands include Kleenex and Kotex.

"The company says the restructuring program could save up to $550 million," NPR's Adelina Lancianese reported. "Personal care companies are struggling as stores compete with online retailers by offering discounts or creating their own private label products. Procter & Gamble also announced that its grooming sector has been hit hard by store discounts."

As it announced financial results and layoff plans, Kimberly-Clark's board of directors also approved a 3.1 percent increase in the company's quarterly dividend for 2018, which it says is the 46th consecutive annual dividend increase for shareholders.

Falk noted that in 2017, Kimberly-Clark "returned $2.3 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases."

In the wake of Republican-backed changes to the U.S. tax code, several large corporations have given employees raises and increased benefits. But there has also been bad news. For instance, Walmart announced better pay for new employees on the same day that it said it would close 63 stores.

Providing some details about its taxes, Kimberly-Clark says, "The fourth quarter effective tax rate was 19.2 percent in 2017 and 35.7 percent in 2016. The rate in 2017 included a net benefit as a result of U.S. tax reform and related activities."

NPR.org reports contributed to this story.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.