Acuity Brands to lay off 800 workers

CONYERS - Lighting manufacturer Acuity Brands, the parent company of Conyers-based Lithonia Lighting, announced Tuesday plans to lay off 800 employees and close two manufacturing plants.

The move came as the company reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell 19 percent amid rising costs and weak demand in the residential housing market and for new store construction in some retail channels.

It was not immediately known how the cutbacks would affect Acuity's Lithonia Lighting complex in Conyers on Lester Road. The Conyers facility is home to some of the company's administrative, engineering and design offices. The company also has a large product distribution operation in Conyers.

A call to Joe Jackson, Acuity Brands vice president for human resources, was not returned Tuesday.

Georgia Department of Labor spokesman John Ard said Tuesday the company had not filed notices of any layoffs or plant closing in Georgia.

The reduction in work force will include manufacturing and salaried positions in mostly non-customer-interfacing areas of the business, according to a statement released by the company Tuesday.

The closing of two manufacturing plants and the reduction of a third is a consolidation of Acuity's manufacturing operations, the company said.

Acuity Brands has about 8,000 employees and has 24 manufacturing operations in North America, Europe and Asia, according to the company's Web site.

The losses were contributed to the weak construction market and rising costs. In a statement, Acuity Brands Chairman, President and CEO Vernon J. Nagel said the moves were part of an overall strategy to adjust to the current economic environment.

"While decisions to eliminate jobs are never easy, these actions are necessary for us to better leverage our supply chain capabilities, improve service to our customers and enhance and focus our organizational capabilities," Nagel said in the statement.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.