BlackBerry plans to lay off up to 40 per cent of employees: report

Wall Street Journal says big cuts coming at troubled tech company

TORONTO – BlackBerry (TSX:BB) could lay off as many as 5,000 employees in the coming months in an effort to return the smartphone maker to profitability, according to a media report.

The Wall Street Journal says executives are preparing to reduce the company’s staff by as much as 40 per cent before the end of the year, citing people familiar with the matter.

BlackBerry declined to directly address the reported number of potential layoffs.

“Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing,” spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger said in an emailed statement.

Shares of the company were down 1.8 per cent, or 19 cents, to $10.69 in late Wednesday afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins is moving ahead with a three-stage plan designed to make the struggling Waterloo, Ont.-based company profitable again.

In the most recent quarter, BlackBerry posted an $84 million loss as it faced costs from the launch of its new devices and underwhelming shipments to stores.

The latest financial results will be released on Sept. 27.

BlackBerry had 12,700 employees worldwide at the start of March, though the company has been trimming its operations over the past few months. In July, the company gave layoff notices to 250 workers at its product testing facility in Waterloo, and followed up with cuts of about 60 employees, mostly in its sales department, earlier this month.

Throughout the summer it also saw the departure of several mid-level executives who were responsible for the launch of the new BlackBerry operating system and the PlayBook.

Those reductions came on top of the 5,000 jobs the company has cut since it launched a restructuring effort last year.

On Wednesday, BlackBerry unveiled its latest device, a larger smartphone called the BlackBerry Z30, which serves as a midpoint between a phone and tablet. The Z30 comes with a five-inch screen, improved battery life and faster processor than the models released earlier this year.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.