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A business consultancy, based in London, England, John Sacks' JSA Consultancy Services provides expert, in-depth, information advice and guidance as to how to exploit successfully the office furniture and interiors markets in Europe, North America, Australasia and Japan.

For sale: HNI jet

Friday 17 October 2008

Muscatine-based HNI Corp. has put its corporate jet up for sale to cut expenses in response to sluggish economic conditions, laid off its flight crew and may face more layoffs in the future.

“As a company we’ve seen a slowdown in business,” Gary Carlson, HNI’s vice president of member and community relations, said Wednesday. “That causes us to look at our expense structure in all of our departments to match sales with what you have for production and capability.”

HNI, a leading manufacturer of office furniture, on Wednesday reported earnings of $19.5 million, or 44 cents a share, for its third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. That is 45 percent less than the $35.3 million in net income reported by HNI in the same three months of last year.

For the nine months of its current fiscal year, HNI has earned $36.9 million, down 55 percent from the $82.8 million reported by the company in the same period of 2007.

The company has posted sales in fiscal 2008 of $1.8 billion, down about 3 percent from the $1.9 billion reported by HNI in the same nine months of last year.

“We will continue to adapt our businesses to the economic environment and are preparing for more uncertainty and potentially severe conditions,” Stan Askren, HNI chairman, president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“We anticipate working through higher input costs in the fourth quarter and offsetting their impact by the beginning of next year,” he said. “We expect a weak and deteriorating economic environment to negatively impact our office furniture businesses ... Our response in these uncertain times is to take strong action to reduce operating expenses and eliminate structural costs.”

Carlson confirmed HNI is trying to sell its 1991 eight-passenger Cessna 560. The jet was used to fly customers to Muscatine to meet with officials from HNI and its subsidiaries, Allsteel and HON. It has also been used to transport employees to meet with customers elsewhere. The jet is valued at approximately $3 million.

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