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January 14. 2013 11:45PM

Brookstone lays off 3 percent of workforce

MERRIMACK - Brookstone, Inc., a retailer of innovative gadgets and specialty items, announced layoffs Monday.

"Today, Brookstone implemented a restructuring plan designed to reposition the company for continued growth and success. The reorganization included eliminating positions that represent less than three percent of the company's total workforce," a spokesperson for Brookstone said in a statement.

The layoffs come exactly one year after former president and chief executive officer of the company, Ron Boire, announced his resignation from Brookstone, a Merrimack-based company housed at 1 Innovation Way. Brookstone operates about 290 stores nationwide in malls and airports and in Puerto Rico, while also offering the Brookstone catalog and website.

Pauline Collins, public relations manager at Brookstone, refused to comment Monday on the layoffs. The company would not elaborate on how many New Hampshire employees were let go, or what sector of its workforce was hit hardest by the layoffs.

"This reorganization will streamline our operations and allow us to invest further in product development, our retail stores, our website and customer service," the statement said.

In November, after the release of its third-quarter report for 2012, Brookstone's new president and CEO, Stephen Bebis, said his company is encouraged with both the top and bottom line results for the quarter.

"Our improving net sales results provide us with optimism for the remainder of 2012 as we approach the winter holiday selling season," he said in a news release issued at the time. "We continue to invest in strategic growth initiatives to drive our long-term success in each of our business segments, and have realized particularly strong gains in our audio and mobile technology product categories."

But the company reported a net loss of $12.6 million for the second quarter ending June 30, 2012; that compares to a $13.6 million net loss for the same quarter in 2011.

Thomas Moynihan, Brookstone's vice president and chief financial officer, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday's layoffs. At the start of last year, Moynihan said the company's cash balances remained healthy, commenting in a news release that Brookstone is "encouraged by our improving operational and financial results despite the difficult macro-economic environment."

According to its website, Brookstone was founded in 1965, advertising "hard-to-find tools" in Popular Mechanics magazine. The company began with catalog sales, and in 1973 opened its first retail store in Peterborough.

Brookstone headquarters are in Merrimack. It has a distribution center and customer care center - web, mail and telephone orders - in Missouri, its website says.

khoughton@newstote.com

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