Warner Bros. Distribber Trims Staff In U.K.

Warner Bros.’ U.K. distribution branch trimmed the payroll last week, part of what was described as WB Intl.’s “ongoing management review.”

The studio did not disclose the number of layoffs, but VARIETY understands at least six people were let go. Most of the casualties reportedly were in administration, but two went from sales.

“We periodically review the cost of our operations. This is especially true in these economic times,” read a studio statement issued in London. “We believe this process is critical so we can maintain our levels of success and profitability.”

It was not immediately clear whether staff changes would occur in other WB offices.

While stressing that each local manager was responsible for manning levels, the distrib’s v.p., Europe, Frank Pierce, said: “There could be some reorganization throughout Europe. I’m sure every office is taking a hard look at its operations and staffing. We’re running very tight and there’s been no hiring to speak of in the past six months.”

Pierce discounted suggestions that the U.K. economies were linked to Time Warner’s efforts to reduce its mountain of debt. He said he thought the streamlining resulted from the introduction of more sophisticated computers and from more centralized booking.

In common with WB Intl.’s overall performance, the U.K. company had mixed fortunes last year. The Disney/Touchstone side yielded a clutch of hits while the WB product was down on the previous year.

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