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Shinola cutting jobs to 'restructure' business

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
A new Shinola worker assembles a dial at the company’s flagship retail store in Midtown.

Detroit — Shinola Detroit LLC is undergoing a restructuring in an effort to grow the business — and that includes layoffs.

The luxury watchmaker said Friday that it began reducing its workforce by less than 5% Thursday. It employs more than 600 employees, including an average of 200 in manufacturing, according to its website; that suggests the company has laid off about 30 employees.

Daily Detroit first reported the layoffs Thursday.

Shinola did not specify from where the job cuts are coming, though it does not affect the downtown Shinola Hotel, which opened its doors in January in a partnership with businessman Dan Gilbert's Bedrock LLC real estate company, Bedrock spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said. The hotel employs approximately 365 people.

Shinola added that it identified local employment opportunities outside of Shinola for each affected employee.

"As Shinola remains committed to delivering the highest quality products to its customers, the company is taking the necessary steps to refocus its business strategy for future operations," Trish O'Callaghan, spokeswoman for Shinola's parent company, Texas-based Bedrock Manufacturing Co. LLC, said in a statement. 

"In order to advance this new phase of growth, the company is reducing its workforce by less than 5%. Shinola is a small family. Our employees are this company’s foundation and the decision to restructure was not made without careful consideration. While difficult, this step is critical to enable and scale profitable growth."

The restructuring comes after Shinola's former president, Jacques Panis, left the company in March 2018. At the time, Shinola and Fossil Group founder Tom Kartsotis said Panis' abilities would be put to better use in an "entrepreneurial" setting. He is now the CEO of Troy-based New World Diamonds, a lab-grown diamond start-up.

Shinola, which is based in the College for Creative Studies in Midtown, has grown from a boutique watchmaker in 2011 with an expanded line of upscale leather goods, bicycles, jewelry and office accessories. It has more than 30 locations in the United States, including two flagship stores; one is next to the Shinola Hotel on Woodward, and the other is on West Canfield Street.

The company's brand touts its Detroit roots and mission to employ Detroiters, though it came under fire from Detroiters and political leaders in February after "Green Book" director Peter Farrelly said Shinola is "saving Detroit" at the Oscars. The company said the shoutout was unexpected.

In 2016, Shinola dropped the company’s “Where American is Made” slogan after a probe by federal regulators revealed the Detroit-based watch manufacturer relied too heavily on parts made overseas. It now advertises that its watches are "built in Detroit."