FULLERTON (CBSLA/AP) — The maker of Kleenex and Huggies says it will shut down its Fullerton plant, one of 10 it will close across the country due to sluggish sales blamed on the slowing national birthrate.
Kimberly-Clark announced in January that it would be closing or selling 10 manufacturing facilities and cutting 5,000 to 5,500 jobs, or 12 to 13 percent of its workforce.
Based in Irving, Texas, Kimberly-Clark is the maker of brands such as Kleenex, Kotex, Cottonelle and Huggies.
Kimberly-Clark’s annual sales declined for the three-year period between 2013 and 2016, according to FactSet. But annual sales rose slightly in 2017 from the prior-year period.
Slow sales were blamed on the declining birthrate.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the general fertility rate fell 11 percent between 2007 and 2016. Only provisional data is available for 2017, but it tells the same story: Women under 30 are having fewer children and aren’t in the market for diapers, tissue and other products that new parents buy in bulk.
“You can’t encourage moms to use more diapers in developed markets when the babies aren’t being born in those markets,” Kimberly-Clark CEO Tom Falk said in a conference call.
The 1.3 million-square-foot factory on 66 acres of land in Fullerton opened in 1956 and employs more than 300 people, according to the Orange County Register. Greg Pallesen, president of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Union told the newspaper most of the employees at the Fullerton plant live in Orange County and make salaries ranging from $80,000 to $100,000.
“It came as horrible, shocking news to them,” Pallesen said. “Most have worked at the plant for years. They have kids in college and home mortgages. You always think it will happen to somebody else.”
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