Home Consumer Goods Avon Products laying off 100 workers in Rye amid U.S. consolidation

Avon Products laying off 100 workers in Rye amid U.S. consolidation

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Photo courtesy of Avon’s Facebook page.

Avon Products Inc. announced on Wednesday that it is laying off about 100 employees in its Rye data center, closing the rest of the Rye operations over the next year and consolidating U.S. operations in Suffern.

A state Department of Labor notice put the number of data center employees being affected at 105. Their work in Rye will cease by the end of September, and their jobs will be phased out by the end of May, according to a state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification.

Avon CEO Jan Zijderveld cited the company’s international focus in a press release, attributing the actions to a strategy of “simplifying our U.S. operations,” “providing fuel for growth” and becoming “more fit for purpose.”

Rye has also housed Avon’s financial services and accounting, a distribution center and general corporate offices over the years. The number of employees working there after the data center closes and who will work at the Suffern facility was not disclosed.

The data operations will be moved to other locations in the U.S. and around the world, spokeswoman Emily Robinson said in an email message. Some employees will be relocated to Suffern or to other offices. All Rye operations will cease by the end of next September, she said, “at which time we expect to be completely exited from Rye.”

The building is expected to be sold by the end of next year, according to the press release.

Avon has struggled financially for several years and has embarked on a severe cost-cutting program. For the past two years, the beauty products company has been shifting corporate activities to locations outside of the U.S. It closed its Manhattan office and moved its headquarters to London.

About 100 senior people in the Manhattan office were moved to Rye, and another 80 employees were relocated to a research and development facility in Suffern, where Avon built its first factory in 1897.

The Rye facility, at 601 Midland Ave. next to the Metro-North train station, has been an Avon site since the late 1950s. By 2011, the two-story building was in serious need of renovations.

That year, Avon pledged to retain 668 jobs and spend $17.7 million on renovations if the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) granted tax abatement for 15 years. It got the deal.

By 2016, Avon had invested only $5 million in repairs and maintenance. It went back to the IDA and asked for an amended agreement, lowering the job-retention requirement to between 450 and 500 jobs.

Avon expected to be a “presence in Westchester for the foreseeable future,” then-Chief Financial Officer James Scully told the IDA board 21 months ago. He defined “foreseeable” as three to five years.

Kevin Plunkett, who was the IDA vice chairman, noted that enforcing the 2011 deal would discourage Avon from operating in Westchester and lead to a “recapture battle” for tax benefits. “They’ve been good corporate citizens since 1956,” he said in 2016, “so the options are clear to me.”

The board unanimously adopted Avon’s request.

Joan McDonald, the IDA’s current chairperson, was not immediately available to discuss how the agency will respond to the layoffs and facility shutdown.

Avon has a market capitalization of more than $1 billion. Last year, it recorded total revenue of $5.7 billion and net income of $22 million.

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