Hallmark to Stop Selling Party Wares

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Hallmark Cards will eliminate about 225 jobs by ending its party ware business and streamlining parts of its greeting card operation, company officials said.

The company announced Monday that between 125 and 150 jobs will be cut during the next 15 to 20 months by eliminating party wares, which Hallmark said weren't meeting revenue expectations. Another 100 positions will be cut through streamlining its greeting-card business, The Kansas City Star reported.

Hallmark has about 3,200 employees in Kansas City and roughly 12,000 worldwide. It says the staff reductions will include severance packages for those who lose their jobs, while some workers may be reassigned to other positions within the company.

The party ware business will be dropped at the end of next year, with the changes in the card business taking effect immediately, company officials said.

The changes announced Monday are the latest in a series of modifications the Kansas City-based company has made in recent years in response to the recession and changing consumer habits.

"We never approach decisions that impact people lightly or without thoughtful consideration, but business realities require us to become a smaller, leaner organization," said Dave Hall, president of Hallmark North America. "These steps will help us focus on the strategies most critical for building a strong, healthy future for the company."

The company said consumers are buying lower-cost party products and that segment of its business was not meeting revenue expectations.

"We've seen limited growth there, so it makes sense to focus on other areas where we have more sustained, profitable growth," said Hallmark spokeswoman Julie O'Dell.

The party products won't be sold in Hallmark Gold Crown stores, but the company is working with its licensing partners, such as Disney, Pixar and Marvel, to arrange ways to sell them. Hallmark will retain licensing rights to a few strong-selling party ware products, such as plastic cups, O'Dell said.

The changes in the card development process won't be obvious to consumers, but it is a "total reinvention of how we invent and produce greeting cards," O'Dell said.

Since 1998 the privately owned company has reported consolidated revenue of $4 billion to $4.4 billion a year. In March, it reported 2012 revenue of $4 billion, down 2% from 2011.

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