METTLACH, Germany (AP) -- German tableware and home goods producer Villeroy & Boch AG said Friday it plans to cut 900 jobs worldwide -- or nearly 10 percent of its work force -- in the face of falling demand.
The Mettlach-based company, which was started as a family enterprise in 1748, is just one of the latest companies to be hit by the world financial crisis. It posted sales of euro840 million ($1.1 billion) in 2008 but has seen demand fall dramatically since the start of the year.
Last month, sales dipped 20 percent compared to the same time last year, as demand for its products in major markets like the U.S., Spain and Britain fell sharply amid curbed consumer spending.
The company said that in an effort to restructure, it would cut 900 jobs worldwide out of 9,250 employees. Of those, 400 jobs will be lost in Germany.
A spokesman for the company, Frank Goering, said efforts were being undertaken to make the company more competitive.
"The course of the financial and economic crisis has made the situation for us much worse, so we are going to put our planned structural measures into effect faster than originally planned," he said.
The measures are expected to save Villeroy & Boch an estimated euro50 million ($68 million) annually. The company had already announced shorter work weeks for its German employees earlier this month.
Shares of Villeroy & Boch closed unchanged Friday at euro3.12 ($4.23), though the stock has fallen 60 percent in the last year.