SunPower will eliminate between 145 and 160 jobs, representing about 3 percent of its global team, in the next 12 to 18 months, according to a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The layoffs — part of a restructuring plan — come after California-based SunPower announced in November that it would spin off most of its manufacturing operations to form Maxeon Solar Technologies, based in Singapore. Between 65 and 70 of the total eliminated roles are with SunPower Technologies, the company’s global manufacturing and research and development group. A spokesperson said the “vast majority” of those employees would continue on with Maxeon.
The remainder of the job losses will be distributed throughout the company, including at the corporate level, though SunPower declined to give further details on which positions might be eliminated. The financial filing indicated that the job losses were associated with SunPower’s continued efforts to “focus on distributed generation, storage and energy services” — an effort the company has recently doubled down on as it pitches itself as an energy services company rather than a solar-only provider.
In total, the restructuring will cost SunPower between $16 million and $22 million, with the greatest impact felt in Q4 2019 and Q1 2020. Prior to Monday’s filing, SunPower reported expected annual net losses in 2019 of around $20 million, though the company also said it may break even thanks to increased revenue. Most of that money will go to employee severance packages.
SunPower did not respond to requests for more details on the employee restructuring plan, but the shift comes on the heels of larger efforts to rework the company’s business. In recent years SunPower exited utility-scale development and reoriented around distributed solar and services in a bid for profitability. The split from Maxeon, SunPower CEO Tom Werner said in November, would help improve “the long-term profitability of both companies."
In the break, Maxeon got a $300 million investment from Chinese Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor and SunPower got the opportunity to “focus exclusively on the factors that will cause SunPower to win” in the distributed energy services market, Werner told Greentech Media. SunPower, which is majority-owned by French oil company Total, maintained its U.S.-based research and development division as well as its manufacturing operations at the old SolarWorld plant in Oregon.
SunPower laid off a similar number of employees in 2018. The most recent restructuring will continue through mid-2023, according to the filing. SunPower stocks dipped only slightly on the news of the layoffs, down about 2 percent.
Streamlining the business coincides with SunPower’s other attempts to bring in cash and improve its financial position; this year it worked to sell off some developed projects and offered up 22 million shares in common stock to generate proceeds. So far in 2019 the company has achieved profitability in just one quarter. Though SunPower continues to build its installation pipeline, it remains to be seen whether its business changes will equate to stronger financial stability.