Further layoffs for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Brands, Inc...

May 8, 2009 - RICHMOND, Va. -- UST Inc. and subsidiary U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Brands Inc. have laid off 60 employees at a Longwood, Fla., facility, reported The Orlando Business Journal. The firm will begin layoffs on June 5, according to state records cited by the newspaper. The company plans to eliminate 53 sales representatives, five division managers and one department secretary and department manager, according to the notice the company submitted to the state.

David Sylvia, a spokesperson for Altria Group Inc., parent company of UST Inc., said the reductions were due to a consolidation of UST Inc.'s regional Longwood sales office—serving Florida, Georgia and Alabama—with the sales operations of Philip Morris USA, an Altria-owned tobacco manufacturer and marketer.

The job cuts will affect 16 employees in Virginia, including three at a regional sales office in Richmond, Va., Sylvia told The Richmond Times Dispatch.

Altria bought U.S. Smokeless' parent, UST Inc., in January for $10.4 billion, plus $1.3 billion in assumed debt. U.S. Smokeless is now a subsidiary of Altria, along with cigarette maker Philip Morris USA and cigar maker John Middleton Inc.

"We now have a centralized sales organization that supports all three companies," Sylvia told the paper. Other job cuts are expected elsewhere in the United States as the companies integrate their sales forces, but Sylvia said he could not release numbers.

A notice filed with state officials this week and made public yesterday indicated that U.S. Smokeless would cut 59 positions by June in the Richmond area. But Sylvia said most of the affected people are field sales employees who report to the Richmond office but live and work in a multistate region including Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio and the District of Columbia.

It's almost like the UST sales people knew this was coming because more and more responsibility was diverted away from this group.

Related news brief: Altria more layoffs in February 2009..

Referenece: Layoffs at UST
Consolidation after Altria acquisition leads to reductions
, CSP Daily News, 4/7/2009.