Polaris cuts jobs after warm winter hits off-roader, snowmobile sales

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Off-road vehicle maker Polaris is cutting jobs after its latest results announcement revealed falling sales and profits, partly down to the warm winter.

The Medina-based manufacturer saw its 2015 fourth quarter profits drop 18 percent to $110.7 million, with overall sales dropping 13 percent.

As a result, the firm – which makes snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, motorcycles and three-wheelers – announced it will be cutting 100 jobs in a conference call Tuesday morning.

The company confirmed to BringMeTheNews 50 of the layoffs will be at Polaris locations in Medina, Plymouth and Wyoming, with a "small number" also eliminated in Roseau.

Workers were told of the impending job cuts on Monday.

Warm weather hits sales

In its results announcement, Polaris said off-road vehicle sales dropped 20 percent in the fourth quarter, while snowmobile sales were down 25 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

This, it said, was partly because the "unseasonably warm winter constrained demand for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles."

The strengthening dollar and the falling value of oil played a role, with Polaris performing poorly in oil-rich states such as Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, as well as western Canada.

Polaris told media these same pressures, combined with a jump in expenses related to severance packages for those laid off, means its profits for the first three months of 2016 could be half the level it was a year ago.

"Our outlook for 2016 reflects another volatile year in powersports driven by near-term growth pressures from weak end markets as the threat of a worldwide economic slowdown looms," CEO Scott Wine said in the news release.

"However, we have been in this situation before, and we know how to manage through difficult economic climates. We will continue to optimize dealer inventory, aggressively manage operating costs and other risk exposures, and provide our end-consumer with products and services that exceed their expectations."

Regarding the job cuts, a spokesperson told BringMeTheNews: "Over the last several months, we have taken actions to reduce overall employment costs by approximately 7 percent to right-size our costs with our growth projections.

"We've done this through thoughtful attrition, reduced use of contractors and temp agency workers, and closing of open and planned/budgeted positions. In addition, yesterday, we eliminated approximately 100 salaried positions worldwide that were staffed with Polaris employees."

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