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Juul moving to DC, pulling out of Europe & planning to lay off 40% of staff

In a memo leaked to the press last week, Juul Labs is said to be laying off about 40 percent of its workforce currently consisting of around 3,000 employees. After already downsizing its staff by around 650 jobs just last year, the vapor company will eliminate another 850-900 positions amid declining sales and increased federal regulatory actions.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Juul executives are planning to relocate the San Francisco-based operations to Washington, DC. According to a statement from a Juul spokesperson, the move is an attempt "to repair its relationship with regulators and distance itself from Silicon Valley’s growth-at-all-costs culture."

The news of Juul's restructuring comes amid a deluge of recent layoff reports from companies around the globe, but Juul’s struggles have nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic.  In the leaked memo obtained by Business Insider, CEO K.C. Crosthwaite stated the following.

"[W]e are continuing to evaluate our operations and the best way to position our company for the long term. We have made hard decisions over the last six months, and we still have hard decisions to make. You have my word that I will bring you all together when we have final decisions and details to announce.”

Juul is not publicly acknowledging that the layoffs are indeed imminent, but it is offering public statements that strongly imply some big changes are afoot.   “As part of our ongoing reset, we are constantly evaluating our operations and the best way to position our company for the long term,” the statement reads. “We remain focused on earning the trust of our stakeholders to advance the potential for harm reduction for adult smokers while combating underage use.” 

Related Article:  Pigs must be flying at Juul because it just banned workplace vaping

Many insiders fear that when Juul says it is “evaluating” the situation, what they really mean is that they are in the midst of deciding how many employees to cut and whose positions they will be cutting. Life at the Juul corporate offices right now might be feeling more like a Game of Thrones episode rather then the formerly rosy image of a forward-thinking e-cig company setting out the change the world. 

Juul considers vaping revamp in Europe, South Korea, and China

Unfortunately, “the world” is not altogether impressed with Juul’s actions of late.  As states like Maryland actively initiate lawsuits alleging that the world’s largest supplier of pod-styled vaping products engaged in illicit advertising activities to lure young teenagers into e-cig addiction, Juul has been forced to eliminate most of its flavored product lines as a sort of peace offering.  

Juul’s decision to stop selling flavored vapes cannot be blamed on President Trump either. The Trump Administration announced in late December of last year that it would implement a nationwide ban on flavored, closed-system vapor products, but the announcement came months after Juul had already decided to pull their flavored products from the marketplace amid growing public outrage.

Related Article:   Juul employees angered over Altria ‘deal with the devil’

Juul’s newly emerging payroll debacle is not necessarily a bad omen for the vaping industry as a whole.  Open-tank systems using separately bottled e-liquids are not currently part of the Trump ban, and they probably never will be.  Juul seems to have always been the primary target of anti-vaping lawmakers, and if Juul goes away, maybe – just maybe – the angry politicians will leave the rest of the vaping industry alone. 

 

 

Juul is even viewed by some within the vaping community itself as a sort of nefarious carpetbagger who crashed into the vapes marketplace uninvited and ruined its international reputation in one fell swoop as a life-saving alternative to smoking.  Unfortunately, the supposed crash-and-burn aftermath is not restricted to just the United States. 

News is also surfacing that Juul will be pulling its remaining products from the store shelves of at least five European nations starting at year’s end.  France and Spain will be the first with Austria, Belgium, and Portugal to follow by July of 2021.

Related Article:   Juul employees angered over Altria ‘deal with the devil’

Juul’s reasons for leaving these countries is varied, but most center around the issues of federal regulations that are perceived by upper management as being overly aggressive.  For example, sales in France and Spain remain relatively stable, but the bureaucratic red tape involved in regulatory compliance does not likely justify the company’s overly robust payroll in those countries.  Meanwhile, sales in Austria, Belgium, and Portugal are also quite strong, but these nations are just too small in population to warrant a continuing financial investment by Juul. 

Juul is also hitting the brakes on further expansion into other international markets like New Zealand and Indonesia.  The governments of both China and India have essentially kicked Juul out of their prospective countries entirely, and Juul is also pulling back – but not completely pulling out of – the markets in Singapore and South Korea. The company is reported to be ousting two, top-level executives in charge of overseeing operations in Europe and Asia, according to BuzzFeed News.   

Related Article:  Juul pulls the plug on Facebook, Instagram activity; Twitter still active

(Images courtesy of Shutterstock)

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