Tupperware Inc. plans to lay off workers at its only U.S. manufacturing plant but has no plan to close the Hemingway, S.C., facility, according to a spokeswoman. The Kissimmee, Fla., housewares giant said Feb. 6 that the cutbacks will help balance Hemingway's production with demand. Hemingway molds for U.S., Canadian and some Latin American markets.
U.S. sales of the housewares giant fell 9 percent last year and sales were typically weak in the first quarter of 1995, explained Christine Hanneman, a spokeswoman for Tupperware parent Premark International Inc. of Deerfield, Ill.
Hanneman did not provide production figures but she said improved manufacturing and distribution efficiency also mean fewer workers are needed at Hemingway. The company already laid off 250 of the plant's workers in 1994.
Hanneman said Tupperware does not plan to move molding from Hemingway to plants in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, which focus on their regional markets.
It plans to expand the Brazil plant because Latin American markets are growing rapidly.
Tupperware considered closing Hemingway in 1992 but state officials came up with a tax-cut package that convinced the company to keep the facility open and add 200 jobs. Instead, Tupperware closed its Halls, Tenn., plant, a 99-press molding operation, in early 1993 after U.S. operations recorded a $22 million loss in 1992. Hemingway had more than 100 injection presses in 1994 but Hanneman would not disclose its current press count.
Tupperware is moving some executives to Hemingway in a move to consolidate production management there for North and South America. The move is part of an overall strategy to improve efficiency as Premark plans to spin off Tupperware as a separate, public company by mid-year. Premark said in November that an independent Tupperware would grow, create value for Premark shareholders and be better able to retain key executives.
Tupperware had sales of about $1.4 billion last year, mostly outside the United States. Premark's sales were $3.6 billion.