Xerox said on Wednesday that it was cutting 15 percent of its work force as part of a restructuring, the company’s latest effort to shift focus to its business-services offerings and away from its iconic photocopiers.
In a news release, the company said it would reduce its global staff, which included roughly 23,000 employees in 2022, and name a new leadership team. The layoffs are expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024.
The company’s shares fell more than 12 percent after the layoff news was announced. Its share price had been steadily rising over the past year, in part because Xerox had saved billions of dollars after starting a cost-cutting program in 2018. It reported a roughly 6 percent drop in revenue in the third quarter of 2023 compared with the previous year.
Xerox was founded in 1906 as the Haloid Company. After being known primarily for manufacturing photocopy machines throughout the 20th century — so much so that to “Xerox” became a verb — and facing pressure from Japanese competitors like Canon, it transitioned to focusing more on financial services, like insurance and real estate.
That strategy ultimately backfired, and the company sold off those divisions in the 1990s. In recent years, Xerox has struggled to adjust to the digital age as demand for ink and print documents crumbled.
The transition would happen in fits and starts, with a series of moves that didn’t deliver profits.
Under the leadership of Ursula Burns, Xerox’s former chief executive, the company sought to beef up its business services by helping clients streamline the flow of documents in human resources and health care and handling payment systems. In 2010 it acquired Affiliated Computer Services, which runs the computer payment services for E-ZPass highway tolls, for $6.4 billion.
But Xerox sold off its information technology outsourcing business for more than $1 billion in 2014, and competition from China in the production of cartridge-clone makers hurt its profits. The company also sought to make inroads in 3-D printing, but it sold off that business unit, too, in August 2023.
In 2018, the company announced that it was merging with Fujifilm, the Japanese conglomerate. That merger was called off less than three months later after activist shareholders, most prominently Carl Icahn, protested the move as undervaluing Xerox. In 2019, Xerox sought to acquire HP, but that deal was also called off after HP rejected it, citing concerns over Xerox’s financial health.