MONTREAL — Yellow Pages Ltd. has cut another 500 jobs across the country as it continues to struggle with a shift of consumer preferences from print to digital directories.
The company (TSX:Y) said Tuesday the job losses, which took effect Tuesday, amount to close to 18 per cent of its employees. That’s on top of 300 positions that were eliminated in October 2015.
“Decisions that materially impact our employees are difficult but absolutely critical to securing the near-term health of the business while we build a great company that provides excellent opportunities in the future,” Yellow Pages chief executive David Eckert said in a statement.
“Today’s actions are one element resulting from a comprehensive review of our operating and capital spending, aimed at creating a strong financial basis for stability and growth.”
The cuts were made across the country and all parts of the company’s business.
Yellow Pages said it expects to take a $17-million restructuring charge related to the decision.
Company spokeswoman Jolle Langevin said cutting jobs to reduce expenses is one of several measures that have been considered and other moves could still be announced.
“Everything is one the table,” she said.
Analyst Vahan Ajamian of Beacon Securities Ltd. said investors will be encouraged by the “no nonsense” attitude taken by Eckert in more than three months since being appointed.
In addition to cutting costs, he has restructured the company’s debt.
“I think those are positive signs but investors have to see what the outlook for the year and then the future holds,” he said.
Ajamian said the latest moves could position the company to sell some or all of the business.
“That could be what the new CEO’s mandate is,” he said. “There’s definitely talk about selling some of the non-core acquisitions that they’ve made and/or the company as a whole.”
Yellow Pages have taken restructuring charges almost every quarter as it tries to get more efficient in the face of changing dynamics.
In addition to the Yellow Pages print directories, the business is a digital media and marketing company.
Its online properties include YP.ca, RedFlagDeals.com, Canada411.ca, 411.ca, Bookenda.com, DuProprio.com, ComFree.com and YP NextHome.
Digital now accounts for 70 per cent of revenues, but even those have stalled and slightly declined of late, Ajamian said.
He said it seemed about two years ago that the company would resume overall growth, but about a year or so ago “the wheels fell off the bus even on the organic digital side.”
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press