Citing Weak Growth, Longaberger Laying Off 710 Workers

Basket maker cites softer-than-expected growth for layoffs.

NEWARK, Ohio (AP) - The Longaberger Co. said Tuesday it will lay off 710 workers as the nation's largest maker of handmade baskets cuts costs in the face of weaker-than-expected growth.

Longaberger said 471 of the affected employees in its basket-making and other manufacturing operations will return to work June 18 in anticipation of the yearly ramp-up to holiday season. Whether the remaining workers are able to come back will depend on business conditions in the second half of the year, the company said.

The company employs 3,200 workers, including the 710 that will be laid off. The company employed 8,300 workers in 2000.

In addition to cutting jobs, the company said it is also boosting spending on efforts to reach more customers. Those efforts include increasing the use of promotional flyers, opening new retail stores at its Longaberger Homestead location and expanding its online sales program.

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