Japan’s Nissan reportedly to double global job cuts to over 10,000

The job cuts, exceeding 7 percent of Nissan’s 138,000-strong workforce, come as Nissan struggles to improve dismal profit margins in the US, a key market. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Japan’s Nissan reportedly to double global job cuts to over 10,000

  • The global plan includes the 4,800 job cuts announced in May
  • It will mostly be at factories overseas with low utilization rates

TOKYO: Nissan plans to expand job cuts to over 10,000 to help turn around its business, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as profit continues to plunge while the automaker grapples with management upheaval.
The global plan includes the 4,800 job cuts announced in May and will mostly be at factories overseas with low utilization rates, the person said. It will be announced along with financial results on Thursday, said the person, who declined to be identified as the information was still private.
Nissan declined to comment on the job cuts. Its shares ended the day up nearly 1.0 percent.
Analysts expect Nissan to post one of its weakest quarterly performances since the 2008 global financial crisis when it announces its first-quarter earnings on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Nikkei business daily reported the automaker would report operating profit of “several billion yen” for the quarter, around a 90 percent drop from 109.1 billion yen a year earlier. Analysts estimate a decline of 64 percent.
The job cuts, exceeding 7 percent of Nissan’s 138,000-strong workforce, come as Nissan struggles to improve dismal profit margins in the United States, a key market where former Chairman Carlos Ghosn for years pushed to aggressively grow market share during his time as chief executive.
Years of heavy discounting to grow sales in the world’s second-biggest auto market have left Nissan with falling demand for the Altima sedan and other models, a cheapened brand image and low resale values, while the costs to offer high discounts have hit its bottom line.
The latest job cuts also highlight the extent of problems facing Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who is also grappling with fractured relations with French alliance partner Renault following the arrest of their shared former chairman.
Ghosn has been charged with financial misconduct and denies wrongdoing.
Saikawa kept his job in a vote at an annual shareholders meeting last month, though he had to fight off a rare rebuke by top proxy advisory firms who urged shareholders not to reappoint him considering he was groomed for leadership by Ghosn.
In May, Nissan forecast a 28 percent plunge in annual operating profit, adding to a 45 percent fall in the previous year, putting the automaker on course for its weakest earnings in 11 years.
While addressing faltering performance, Saikawa also has to repair trust with Renault, which has deteriorated in past months as the French automaker sought more control within Nissan.
Renault owns 43 percent of the Japanese automaker, which in turn holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its partner. Saikawa, who has sought more equal footing with Renault, last month said Nissan would postpone discussions on the alliance’s future to prioritize performance.
The extended job cuts were first reported by Kyodo late on Tuesday.


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.