ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 16 -- In response to consumer trends, Eastman Kodak Company has announced that it will discontinue wholesale photofinishing, and close three remaining photofinishing laboratories in the U.S. and Canada operated by subsidiary Qualex, Inc.
The labs will end pickup and delivery to retail locations by the end of March 2009, while the majority of digital fulfillment operations will end at that time, too. About 300 employees at labs in Dallas, Tex., Allentown, Pa., and Hamilton, Ont., as well as the Qualex headquarters in Durham, N.C., will be impacted. Employees will receive a separation package that includes severance payments and outplacement assistance.
According to Brad Kruchten, Kodak Vice President and General Manager, Retail Printing Solutions, the action is in response to the fact that consumer demand for pictures has become focused on either in-store or home options. As a result, Kodak has focused its initiatives in those arenas.
Kruchten pointed out that Kodak earlier this year introduced the KODAK Adaptive Picture Exchange (APEX) digital lab system that enables retailers to make prints without water or chemicals. Kodak also has an industry-leading 95,000 Kodak picture kiosks at locations worldwide and an innovative line of home inkjet printers that was recently expanded, as well as the KODAK Gallery on-line photo service. Kruchten also noted that for consumers who use film, many retail locations offer on-site one-hour processing service.
"This announcement certainly is not a reflection on the dedication and skill of Qualex employees, who have worked diligently to serve customers," he said. "The timing is unfortunate, but we wanted to let them know of this decision as soon as possible."
Kodak will continue operation of another Qualex division, Event Imaging Solutions, Inc., which offers themed picture taking at theme parks, malls and special events.
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