E-cigarette maker Juul plans layoffs, Europe and Asia exit: report

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 03 2020 03:35 PM

File photo, a man exhales a puff of smoke from a vape pipe at a shop in Richmond on Sept. 24, 2019.Steve Helber, AP/File

NEW YORK, United States - Troubled e-cigarette maker Juul plans to pull out of Europe and Asia and lay off more workers after already shedding a third of its workforce, the Wall Street Journal said Wednesday.

The start-up could end sales in 11 countries including Italy, Germany, Russia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the paper said, noting the US, Canada and Britain accounted for 90 percent of its sales in the first quarter.

That is expected to be accompanied by lay-offs, but no precise numbers have yet been announced.

Juul did not respond to an AFP request for comment late Wednesday.

The labor cuts would allow the company to invest in developing new products, according to an email sent to staff by Juul CEO Kevin Crosthwaite.

"While those investments will not provide short-term revenue, they will help us earn trust and build a company for the long term," said Crosthwaite who took over the company a year ago.

Juul was accused of illegally selling its products to underage consumers and of having targeted high school kids, unleashing a landslide of lawsuits.

Since then, Juul has essentially stopped advertising or selling sweet or fruit-flavored products in the US and has pulled out of several overseas markets such as South Korea, Austria, Belgium, Portugal and Spain, as sales plummeted.

It laid off almost a third of its 3,000 workers earlier this year, and now has a staff of around 2,200, the Journal said.

In addition, in April the Federal Trade Commission moved to block a huge investment by competitor Altria, which owns the Marlboro brand, in Juul.

Altria had spent $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in Juul in December 2018, valuing the start-up at $38 billion. Altria now values the company at $12 billion.