Rogers fires off pink slips

TORONTO — Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) says it’s laying off about 900 employees across Canada, mostly in executive and management positions, in an effort to streamline operations as it grapples with intensifying competition.

A customer's shadow casts on the sidewalk as he leaves a Rogers Plus store in the Rogers Centre in Toronto Thursday. Rogers Communications announced Thursday it is laying off 900 employees across Canada.

TORONTO — Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) says it’s laying off about 900 employees across Canada, mostly in executive and management positions, in an effort to streamline operations as it grapples with intensifying competition.

A spokeswoman for the telecommunications and media giant didn’t give a precise figure for the number of people affected but said the layoffs represent three per cent of the company’s total workforce of 30,000.

“The goal was to streamline the organization, remove the number of layers and enable quick and faster decision making,” said Rogers spokeswoman Terrie Tweddle in an interview Thursday.

Areas of the company affected by the cuts include marketing and communications, human resources, and technology support operations.

Tweddle added that the cuts have a minimal effect on “frontline” operations, such as call centres and customer services.

“We actually continue to hire and invest in resources, particularly in customer-facing areas, while we’re going through the reorganization,” she said.

The job cuts come as Rogers, which owns Canada’s largest wireless phone service, faces heated competition from established rivals Bell and Telus and new entrants who plan to offer cheaper wireless airtime packages.

This holiday season is considered crucial for Rogers because it’s the first time the company hasn’t held the exclusive rights to the popular iPhone in Canada. Both Telus and Bell now offer the device, which was previously only available through Rogers Wireless and its Fido brand.

Rogers announced separately on Thursday that it has increased its stake in Canada’s fourth-largest cable company, Cogeco Cable Inc. (TSX:CCA) and its parent Cogeco Inc. (TSX:CGO).

Rogers says it spent a total of $163 million cash, plus commissions, to increase its minority stakes in the two Montreal-based companies, which are controlled by the founding Audet family through their ownership of multiple-vote shares.

The Cogeco cable systems serve communities in an area that stretches from the tip of southwestern Ontario to the Gaspe region in eastern Quebec.

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