Briggs & Stratton is making a strategic retreat from the U.S. retail market and will reassign production of small-equipment engines to a Chinese operation, two moves that continue a restructuring program announced in January. Also, the Milwaukee-based manufacturer of outdoor power equipment engines will cut its salaried workforce by approximately 10% during fiscal 2012.

The changes will result in job losses for about 250 workers at Briggs & Stratton’s Auburn, AL, plant, and the salaried workforce reduction will affect about 210 employees worldwide.

"While we appear poised for an improved lawn-and-garden market here in the U.S., our longer-term projections of the lawn-and-garden market in the U.S. and in Europe do not return to the peaks that we saw in 2004 and 2005 for the foreseeable future. We previously announced capacity reductions in our manufacturing facilities and have announced today that certain portions of our current business will not be strategic for us in the future," stated chairman Todd Teske.

Briggs & Stratton said it would no longer seek to place its lawn-and-garden products at national mass retailers, though its Engines unit will continue producing engines for lawn-and-garden equipment OEMs whose branded products are sold at those outlets. The company will continue to sell pressure washers and portable and standby generators through U.S. retail channels, it said.

Briggs & Stratton’s Products unit will concentrate on producing “higher-margin products” sold through a network of dealers and regional retailers offering its Simplicity, Snapper, and Ferris products.

The company’s Auburn, AL, plant will cease production of horizontal shaft engines, which will be produced at Briggs & Stratton’s plant in Chongqing, China, or sourced from third-party manufacturers in Southeast Asia, it said. The Auburn plant will continue producing portable generators through calendar year 2012, but the company said it is evaluating alternatives to manufacturing, assembling, or sourcing cost-effective portable generators beyond this fiscal year.

The Auburn plant will continue to produce V-Twin engines used in riding mowers and other outdoor power applications, according to a statement.

Teske, who is president and CEO of the company, as well as its chairman, said Briggs & Stratton is taking “difficult, but necessary actions, to reduce our salaried support staff … While it is very difficult to take these actions, it is necessary to reach our strategic goals and position Briggs & Stratton for success in the future."