HP’s axe could fall on ME jobs

HP Middle East has admitted that some of its staff could face the axe as a result of the global round of job cuts the company announced earlier this month. However, a spokesperson for the company said that earlier reports that it could lose up to 200 of its 670 regional staff were “inaccurate”.

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By  Peter Branton Published  July 31, 2005

HP Middle East has admitted that some of its staff could face the axe as a result of the global round of job cuts the company announced earlier this month. However, a spokesperson for the company said that earlier reports that it could lose up to 200 of its 670 regional staff were “inaccurate”. HP announced on July 19 that it is looking to cut 14,500 staff worldwide, or about 10% of its total headcount, over the next six quarters as part of a restructuring plan designed to save US$1.9billion per year. The majority of staff reductions will come in support functions, such as information technology, human resources and finances, with reductions in sales positions to be minimised, “so that HP can continue to provide world-class services and avoid impacting customers,” the company said in a statement. “After a thorough review of our business, we have formulated a plan that will enable HP to begin delivering its full potential,” Mark Hurd, HP CEO and president, said in the same statement. “We can perform better — for our customers and partners, our employees and our shareholders — and we will.” The job cuts had been widely anticipated, with HP having already embarked on a voluntary redundancy programme for its cash-cow printer business (see IT Weekly, 7- 13 May 2005). HP currently employs around 150,000 staff worldwide. In the region, the company employs around 670 staff in officesin Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo in Egypt and locations in Saudi Arabia. HP is in the process of opening offices in Oman as part of its plan to open offices in all Arab countries. This plan is still expected to go ahead, regardless of any possible headcount changes in the region. “The reality is that no decision has already been made with regard to whether there will be job cuts in the region or not, and if so, how many,” said Samer Karawi, marketing manager, enterprise corporate communications, HP Middle East. Since no decisions have yet been made at the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA ) level, the company was not in a position to comment further on possible staff cuts, he said. However, he added that “the expectation is that the impact for the Middle East will be very minimal.” In an interview given to ITP on July 5, Joseph Hanania, managing director, HP Middle East, said he wasn’t expecting to see any staff cuts in the region: “I don’t think so, because our strategy of investment and growth says we won’t invest until the numbers are made,” he said. “I think all the employees are doing a good job but sometimes management took too long to execute things,” Hanania said. “This decision to reduce the workforce was taken a long time ago, but not executed.” Research firm Gartner has welcomed the moves, saying they should improve not just HP’s bottom line but also its relations with customers. “These are positive steps toward improving HP’s performance and the experience of its customers,” it said in an online advisory. “The staff reductions appear to be aimed mainly at eliminating inefficiencies within the company, and seem to have been targeted carefully to avoid impacting demand generation, customer satisfaction or revenue,” it added. While HP also said that there would be “little change to headcount in research and development” it has quietly cut some key research projects and lost one of its most distinguished names, Alan Kay, who is leaving the company. Kay, best known for his work on graphical users interfacesat Xerox in the 1970s, was heading a team which was developing a new operating system for the internet. That project has now been canned along with three other research projects, with about 70 research staff being laid off.

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