Local & Regional News
4:55 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Little Rock-based Acxiom Begins Laying Off Employees

Acxiom Corp. began a round of layoffs this week that corporate leaders suggested would be forthcoming when they last reported earnings.

According to Talk Business sources, roughly 50 workers – some in middle management positions – are part of this round of layoffs, although less than half are in Arkansas. A smaller contingency of upper management personnel were let go last year after Acxiom announced a “restructuring program,” and more job cuts may be forthcoming before the end of March when the company’s fiscal year ends.

A spokesperson for Acxiom said the Little Rock-based data marketer would not comment on moves related to what was outlined in the November earnings announcement.

“As communicated in our last earnings call, Acxiom has embarked upon an initiative to increase efficiencies and further improve performance. This is a company-wide, multi-phased approach, and our goal is for all associated actions to be completed by end of this fiscal year. We don’t intend to provide comments at every step,” said Acxiom’s director of corporate communications Ines Gutzmer in an email response to Talk Business.

“It is important to keep in mind that as the market and our industry transforms, Acxiom is required to do the same to remain competitive and continue to lead with innovation and customer service,” she added.

A PREVIOUS HINT

In its second quarter earnings report in November, Acxiom disclosed:

The company expects over the next 6 to 12 months to reduce its annual cost base by roughly $20 to $30 million. These reductions will not impact the company’s ongoing investment in the Audience Operating System or the continued investment in innovation.

In a subsequent SEC filing, Acxiom said:

The initiative seeks to improve the company’s performance by simplifying the company’s management structure, centralizing duplicative efforts and standardizing workflows. The components of the restructuring program are not finalized and actual total savings and timing may vary from those estimated due to changes in the scope or assumptions underlying the restructuring program. The restructuring program will occur in a number of phases, and the company is unable to make a determination of the estimated amount or range of future costs and cash expenditures. The company will file an amendment to this report upon the determination of such amounts.

While alluding to a workforce “reduction,” company leaders never specifically stated that employees would be laid off but the suggestion was clear. Internal sources later confirmed that layoffs were part of the initiative.

Acxiom CFO Warren Jenson said in an earnings call with investors and the media in November that it would not be a “slash and burn” effort. Jenson said there would be “measurable actions before year-end.”

In a subsequent question, he declined to give a timeline stating that the reductions would be “linear not back-end loaded.” He reiterated that areas where the company has duplication and a need for centralization would be a focus, as would a longer-term rethinking on work flows, particularly in engineering, that could be reconfigured by workforce and processes.

The company said that client losses in its ITO (Information Technology Outsourcer) area were partially attributable for the workforce reduction. Acxiom previously reported in its first quarter that its ITO division had a string of “bad luck.”

The $20-$30 million in savings from the cost reduction effort will be reinvested in other areas of the business, Jenson and CEO Scott Howe said at the time.