Burt’s Bees to cut 70 Triangle workers, including 15 in Durham

Jun. 04, 2013 @ 01:35 PM

Natural personal care products maker Burt’s Bees is cutting 70 workers from manufacturing and distribution facilities in Wake County and from its Durham headquarters.

The cuts are to align certain Burt’s Bees operations with the way its California-based parent, The Clorox Co., operates, Gabi Prohn, a spokeswoman for Burt’s Bees, said in an email.

As part of the integration effort, which is planned for multiple areas including distribution, finance and marketing, Burt’s Bees is shifting distribution work to a third-party provider, Prohn said.

“This approach mirrors how we operate across the rest of the company,” she said. “It also helps us remove some of the complexity and cost of maintaining separate systems and processes for Burt’s Bees versus the rest of the company.”

According to a Working Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice sent to the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions, the layoff includes 15 product supply organization, finance and marketing workers at the company’s headquarters in downtown Durham at the American Tobacco campus.

The bulk of the cuts will be to product supply organization workers at manufacturing and distribution facilities in Morrisville.

The cuts are expected to start Aug. 2 and will be staggered through Oct. 31. They will be permanent, according to the notice. 

Exel Logistics co., Burt’s Bees’ third-party distribution provider, is expected to offer jobs to many affected employees, the notice also said. The offers are expected to be made this month.

Burt’s Bees employs 355 in the Triangle, Prohn said. The company has no plans to leave the area, she added.

“In fact, over the long term, the company envisions the Research Triangle becoming a hub to find talent for Burt’s Bees as well as other Clorox functions and (strategic business units),” she said in the email.  

Burt’s Bees makes lip balm, lotions, body washes and soaps as well as other products. The Clorox Co. acquired it in 2007.

In addition to Burt’s Bees, Clorox brands include Clorox, Green Works, Pine-Sol cleaners, FreshStep cat litter, Glad bags, wraps and containers, Kingsford charcoal, Hidden Valley dressings and Brita water filtration products.

In its fiscal third quarter, Clorox saw earnings increase to $133 million from $132 million in the same quarter the prior year.

Its sales were up 1 percent, primarily due to price increases, while its sales volume was flat. The company reported higher shipments of Clorox disinfectant wipes, Glad premium trash bags, Burt’s Bees products as well as other items that were offset by shipment declines in other products.