Distributors tweak staff numbers, avoid big layoffs

Distributors tweak staff numbers, avoid big layoffs

Both Cellnet and Renaissance have cut staff amid the recession, but have avoided making large reductions in personnel.

Each has reported drops in revenue and/or profit in recent results announcements; for Renaissance the full year to December 2008, and for Cellnet the half year to the same month. Renaissance’s net profit fell 70 percent year on year, while Cellnet’s sales revenue fell 50 percent on the previous corresponding half year.

Renaissance managing director Paul Johnston says the redundancies, part of a recent review of its business units, were in the single figures. The company employs 360 people and the layoff numbers didn’t exceed what it would normally experience through attrition, he says, adding some roles have been repositioned within the company.

Cellnet, meanwhile, has cut six positions, but has employed two new sales staff and intends to add two further staff members. It has also recently opened an office in Wellington.

Chief operating officer Rob Buckman says the company needed “a more outbound focus”.

The two additional recruits will be in retail business development and on its IT quote desk, says Rob Buckman.

The discontinued positions comprise three pre-sales roles and three back office/finance jobs. The finance roles will now be carried out by Cellnet’s Australian team, Buckman says.

Renaissance discontinued what it says were higher risk areas in the business, including the company’s data insurance arm Renaissance Indemnity, which held the rights to online data security offering Indatasure.

Johnston says the insurance venture is set to continue with adoption by a minority shareholder.

Nik Key, recruited as channel manager for Renaissance Indemnity, is exploring other positions within the distributor, and could be offered a role with the organisation planning to adopt the venture.

The other currently discontinued activity is its media service Widget to Pay, which was called Txt Tunes until mid-2008. Renaissance still holds the rights to the service, but the company won’t invest in its development in the near term, says Johnston.

Both distribution to retailers and the Renaissance-owned Magnum Mac chain were affected by the tough economy, Johnston says.

“Retail has been hard hit since March or April last year. Magnum Mac didn’t get to the numbers we had wanted it to.”

However, Renaissance remains committed to the opening of a new Christchurch Magnum Mac store, along with the refurbishment of at least two other stores, he says.

Johnston suggests Renaissance could be on the hunt for more businesses to buy, having acquired design college Natcoll and Magnum Mac in recent years.

“We’re looking at what we can do. We won’t be taking on bad business, but there’s opportunities in situations like this where there could be some businesses that are attractive to us.”

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