BlackBerry to cut jobs across global operations

BlackBerry says it’s looking to reduce the size of its device operations and make it profitable again.

TORONTO — BlackBerry says it’s laying off an unspecified number of employees across its global operations as it makes changes to the operations responsible for making its smartphones.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company said the job cuts will affect people who made the hardware, software and applications for its phones, which include devices like the BlackBerry Bold, Classic and Passport.

BlackBerry (TSX:BB) refused to say how many jobs were being cut, but said it’s looking to reduce the size of its device operations and make it profitable again.

“As the company moves into its next stage of the turnaround, our intention is to re-allocate resources in ways that will best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business,” the company said in an emailed statement.

BlackBerry had about 7,000 global employees as of September 2014. About half worked in Canada, with most of them in the Waterloo region.

BlackBerry said it plans to boost sales and marketing activity in the coming months, as well as secure strategic partnerships with other businesses and hire more employees focused both on sales and “high growth” areas of its business.

The latest round of job cuts comes after chief executive John Chen said last August that BlackBerry had come to the end of three years of layoffs.

Chen has been focused on shifting BlackBerry’s priorities since he joined the company in November 2013. However, he has faced an onslaught of competition from other phone manufacturers including Apple, which first wanted a slice of the consumer market but is now aggressively pursuing large corporate clients.

Instead of making smartphones a priority, Chen has pivoted BlackBerry’s strategy towards mobile software services that emphasize higher security levels and are aimed squarely at the business community and government.

BlackBerry began to turn a small profit last year, but the overall revenues of its phones and software services continue to decline.

Last month, the company said it was in negotiations to close its offices in Sweden, which employed about 100 people, but at the time said it needed to work out details with a local union. The company declined to say whether the latest cuts included those offices.

At the peak of its success, the company had about 20,000 employees around the world before making dramatic cuts in recent years.

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