Check printing firm Deluxe Corp., acknowledging that its future success lies more in electronic banking, said last week it would take $60 million to $70 million restructuring charge.
Executives at St. Paul-based Deluxe said last week that the fourth- quarter charge to earnings would cover expenses related to the closing of several check printing facilities and other writeoffs in several business units.
The company has seen its profit margins shrink in its core check printing business in recent years as the banking industry has consolidated. In addition, electronic payments are expected to slowly begin replacing paper checks as consumers increasingly use bank cards.
"Our earnings declines over the last three years have clearly been a disappointment to our shareholders and employees, and it is now time to begin reversing that trend," said J. A. "Gus" Blanchard, Deluxe's president and chief executive officer, who added that the restructuring should generate $100 million to $125 million in annual expense savings by the end of 1997.
Mr. Blanchard said that as part of its new strategy, the company plans to enhance its electronic banking and other types of information services for financial institutions, mainly through its Deluxe Data unit, a leading third-party processor of automated teller machine transactions.
"Through our Deluxe Data subsidiary, we already provide a variety of transaction processing and settlement capabilities as well as applications for linking various back-office functions," Mr. Blanchard said. "Our new plan calls for strengthening our existing offerings as well as broadening our total value proposition, with the objective being to permit our client financial institutions to connect their customers to any banking application ... by whatever electronic means the customer chooses."
Deluxe officials also said they plan to beef up their product offerings in the payment protection arena, as banks have been forced to eat billions of dollars in fraudulent transactions in recent years.