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Hasbro lays off 55 in RI as part of downsizing

March 6, 2012
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PAWTUCKET, R.I.—Toy maker Hasbro on Tuesday laid off 55 employees in Rhode Island, part of a larger downsizing that comes just months after announcing an expansion into Providence, company officials said.

Company spokesman Wayne Charness said in a statement that about 170 workers are being laid off worldwide because of the "underperformance" in Hasbro's U.S. and Canadian divisions, which are under new leadership. He also cited the company's need for "different skill sets" in its workforce.

The layoffs will affect workers in Pawtucket and Providence. The company said Hasbro hired about 160 people in the state last year.

Hasbro was approved for $1.6 million in tax breaks from the state for its plan to expand into downtown Providence. Officials said earlier this year that the expansion into a 136,000-square-foot building at LaSalle Square would bring 284 jobs and an investment of $24 million in the city.

Charness told The Associated Press Tuesday that the expansion will go ahead.

"Our plan is to be able to continue to grow," he said.

In the statement, Charness said the layoffs are part of an effort to "return this business to historical levels of profitability and growth." He said the company's business remains strong.

The Pawtucket-based firm said last month its fourth-quarter profit slipped 1 percent because of less than anticipated demand in U.S. and Canada and slow sales of games and puzzles during the holiday shopping season.

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