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Avon Laying Off 100 Workers, Closing Operations In Westchester

Avon's headquarters on Midland Avenue in Rye.
Avon's headquarters on Midland Avenue in Rye. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

Avon Products Inc. announced it is laying off about 100 employees in its Rye data center, closing the rest of the Rye operations over the next year and consolidating U.S. operations in Suffern.

Avon CEO Jan Zijderveld cited the company’s international focus in a press release, attributing the actions to a strategy of “simplifying our U.S. operations,” “providing fuel for growth” and becoming “more fit for purpose.”

A state Department of Labor notice put the number of data center employees being affected at 105. Their work in Rye will cease by the end of this month, and their jobs will be phased out by the end of May, according to a state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification.

Avon has been trimming costs ever since 2012 to restore profitability at one of the world’s largest direct, door-to-door cosmetics vendors. Just four years ago, the company employed about 40,000 people worldwide.

In 2014, Avon Products Inc. laid off about 600 workers worldwide, including dozens of information technology and finance employees at Avon’s Rye facility on Midland Avenue.

Rye also housed Avon’s financial services and accounting, a distribution center and general corporate offices over the years. The number of employees working there after the data center closes and who will work at the Suffern facility was not disclosed.

The data operations will be moved to other locations in the U.S. and around the world, spokeswoman Emily Robinson said in an email message. Some employees will be relocated to Suffern or to other offices. 

All Rye operations will cease by the end of next September, she said, “at which time we expect to be completely exited from Rye," Robinson said, according to Westfair.

The building is expected to be sold by the end of next year, according to the press release.

Avon has struggled financially for several years and has embarked on a severe cost-cutting program. For the past two years, the beauty products company has been shifting corporate activities to locations outside of the U.S. It closed its Manhattan office and moved its headquarters to London.

About 100 senior people in the Manhattan office were moved to Rye, and another 80 employees were relocated to a research and development facility in Suffern, where Avon built its first factory in 1897.

The Rye facility, at 601 Midland Ave. next to the Metro-North train station, has been an Avon site since the late 1950s. By 2011, the two-story building was in serious need of renovations.

That year, Avon pledged to retain 668 jobs and spend $17.7 million on renovations if the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) granted tax abatement for 15 years. It got the deal, according to this report by Westfair.

By 2016, Avon had invested only $5 million in repairs and maintenance. It went back to the IDA and asked for an amended agreement, lowering the job-retention requirement to between 450 and 500 jobs.

Avon expected to be a “presence in Westchester for the foreseeable future,” then-Chief Financial Officer James Scully told the IDA board 21 months ago. He defined “foreseeable” as three to five years.

Avon has a market capitalization of more than $1 billion. Last year, it recorded total revenue of $5.7 billion and net income of $22 million.

In 1995, when 160 Avon employees were transferred from Manhattan to Rye, there were 300 data-processing workers employed in Westchester County.

Avon, which bills itself as “the company for women,” sells its beauty products through more than 6 million active independent Avon sales representatives. Avon products are available in over 100 countries, and the product line includes color cosmetics, skincare, fragrance, and fashion and home products, featuring such well-recognized brand names as Avon Color, ANEW, Skin-So-Soft and Advance Techniques.

But Avon has been losing business in North America for years, despite experiments in jewelry, clothing and online sales. Younger consumers are increasingly turning to cheaper cosmetic brands at supermarkets, drug stores and department stores, according to analysts.

Avon’s sales have picked up in developing countries where consumers have increased disposable income for “extras” like makeup, jewelry and children’s accessories and where door-to-door selling has become a growth industry.

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