"These moves were made to address both the under-performance in the U.S. and Canada segment and the need for different skill sets in the company’s work force to be better aligned with a quickly evolving business," Charness said in a statement. Hasbro is the world's second-largest toymaker, behind Mattel Inc.
Hasbro employs about 1,400 people in Rhode Island, Charness said. It was the state's 12th-largest private employer as of last March, according to the R.I. Economic Development Corporation. Rhode Island's unemployment rate was 10.9% in January.
The 55 Hasbro workers losing their jobs in Rhode Island are in Pawtucket and Providence, Charness said. He emphasized that the company hired about 160 people in Rhode Island in 2011, and said its local employment "ebbs and flows" based on the company's needs.
"The decision to eliminate certain positions – even when it is necessary for the long-term success of the company – is always very difficult, because such moves clearly impact people," Charness said. "All employees affected by these moves today will receive competitive severance packages, including outplacement services."
Hasbro employed about 5,900 people worldwide as of December, including 3,200 in the U.S., regulatory filings show. Two decades ago, in 1993, Hasbro employed 12,500 people worldwide, 8,000 of them in the U.S.
Last April, Hasbro agreed to expand operations at 15 LaSalle Square in Providence in exchange for a $1.6 million tax break from the state. The toymaker pledged to spend at least $24 million on renovations and create at least 284 full-time jobs in Rhode Island within three years.
Hasbro stock fell 2.9% to $34.63 at 12:23 p.m. Tuesday in New York Stock Exchange trading amid a broader market selloff. The company said last month its 2011 profit fell 3% to $385 million despite a 7% jump in sales, which totaled $4.3 billion for the year.