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Herman Miller restores most US workers' pay and ends short working as sales begin to improve

Thursday 24 June 2010

Just in time for summer, the every-other-Friday holiday is gone for 3,544 Herman Miller Inc. employees in West Michigan.
The time-and-pay cuts of 10 percent began in the spring of 2009, as the recession gained strength and office furniture orders stalled. The 40-hour work week returned at the beginning of June.
\"During the fourth quarter (2010), we made the decision to return to a full week,\" said Greg Bylsma, chief financial officer.
In a Thursday morning conference call with analysts, Bylsma said salary and wage cuts were also being reinstated.
Hourly workers regained 100 percent of their former wage, but salaried employees got 95 percent, a 5 percent boost from the furlough rate. If the company does well, those employees could fill in that 5 percent wage gap.
Herman Miller\'s fiscal year ended May 29, and it closed its fourth quarter with a slim uptick in sales, to $321.5 million from $319.9 a year before. Other major parameters were lower: $2.1 million in profits for the quarter, compared to $7.2 million a year ago; $1.32 billion in 2010 sales, down 19 percent from $1.63 billion in 2009; and 2010 profits of $28.3 million, down steeply from $68 million the previous year.
\"For the second year in a row, we suffered a 19 percent descent in sales,\" CEO Brian Walker told industry analysts. \"Ours is not the first generation of the company to deal with tough times.\"
But the outlook is upbeat for the current quarter. Based on an influx of orders late in the fourth quarter, and the pace so far this quarter, Herman Miller expects its first quarter sales will be up by 10 to 15 percent over a year ago.
While the outlook is brighter, the pace remains a crawl.
\"Financial and business areas are hardest hit,\" Walker said. \"There\'s signs of life for those folks, but it\'s nowhere near where it was.\"
Projects in the \"bread and butter range,\" those costing between $1 million and $5 million, are also slow.

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