Kleenex-maker Kimberly-Clark to cut at least 5,000 jobs

Kleenex brand visits Chicago to help consumers prepare for cold and flu season at the Kleenex Brand Checkpoint Chicago at Union Station on September 25, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois..

Kleenex-maker Kimberly-Clark has said it will close or sell 10 manufacturing plans and cut at least 5,000 jobs, about 12% of its workforce.

The move comes as the Texas company struggles to lift sales. In the fourth quarter of 2017, sales rose by just 1%.

Kimberly-Clark said the restructuring programme would streamline its supply chain, saving at least $500m by the end of 2021.

The savings are in addition to a plan to reduce costs by $1.5bn in that time.

Kimberly-Clark chief executive Thomas J Falk said: “Although we expect market conditions will remain challenging in the near-term, we plan to deliver better results in 2018 while we begin to implement our new restructuring.”

The company, which sells items under the Huggies brand, reported $617m in profits in the fourth quarter on sales of $4.6bn.

For the year as a whole, sales were $18.2bn, almost unchanged from 2016, while profits rose 5% to $2.28bn.

Kimberly-Clark, which has more than 90 facilities globally including those of affiliates, did not say which plants it intended to close. It said it expected the job cuts to occur across geographies and business units.

It also plans to expand production in some locations.

It also predicted that sales would rise by between 1% and 2% this year.