Tait Communications plans to cut staff

A Tait Communications digital radio is used by a policeman in the United States.
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A Tait Communications digital radio is used by a policeman in the United States.

Christchurch-based Tait Communications is signalling a third tranche of job cuts in a bid to save costs.

The company confirmed it was talking to staff about a restructure after being contacted by Fairfax Media earlier on Wednesday.

It did not give any guidance on the number that could be impacted but said the restructure was worldwide.

"Last month we signalled to staff that we will be working through changes to reduce costs and improve profitability so we can invest in the areas that will deliver more value for customers ...," a Tait spokesperson said in a statement.

"This is an ongoing process and it has required some hard decisions, including a proposed reduction in our number of employees."

In recent years Tait has made a number of staff redundant as part of a reshapinng of its Christchurch workforce.

In 2013 the tech-based company cut 74 jobs, then a year later a further 50 staff staff were made redundant.

The 2014 redundancies aimed at saving the company in the order of $10 million.

Tait, founded by the late Sir Angus Tait in 1969, is thought to employ 500 to 600 staff in Christchurch and another 200 plus overseas.

At the time the company said it was scaling back product development and concentrating on new sales of its digital radio communications systems.

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The business manufactures radio communication handsets, bases and networks for utilities and public agencies, such as police forces.

It manufactures hundreds of thousands of radio devices each year, exporting 95 per cent of its production to more than 100 countries. The drivers of London buses are just one example of the types of workforce that use a Tait system.

Tait's revenues have been reported as growing from $150m in 2007 to $190m in 2009 then north of $200m in 2012. But in 2014, they had fallen back to in the order of $160m-$170m.

The company's managers have stated they want to switch the company from a hardware manufacturer to a services-based firm helping clients 

Tait has a pipeline of sales opportunities, but may be struggling to convert some of those at least in the short term.

In a wider radio communications market Tait is a small player with United States firm Motorola a dominant force. However, Motorola tends to target the larger North American cities in its search for sales while Tait speaks to smaller and rural county organisations about its products.

Tait chief executive Garry Diack was not available for comment about the details behind the restructuring. He is understood to be travelling overseas.

The company said to remain competitive amongst "global giants", it needed to invest more in the future.

That meant doing some things differently, including how the company was organised and how it competed in international markets, it said.

Separately, the company recently saw the exit of chief marketing officer James Kyd.

Kyd said he left Tait about a month ago and had taken up a new role. His follows a number of other senior resignations.

Previous chief executive Frank Owen resigned from Tait earlier in 2014 for personal reasons to return to Europe. Wellington's Vega Navigation has recruited former Tait Communications chief operating officer Arjen Maarleveld earlier this year. 

Kyd's move to Auckland was for family reasons, he said.

He was now working in marketing with fleet management solutions provider Coretex and understood that someone had stepped into the Tait marketing role in a slightly reconfigured role.

 - Stuff

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