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Disney to lay-off 32,000 workers

(Original Caption) Los Angeles, California: Opening of Tomorrowland in Disneyland.
Disney is struggling with a drop in customer numbers at its theme parks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty

Walt Disney (DIS) has announced that it will axe 32,000 jobs, mainly at its theme parks around the world.

The decision marks extra 4,000 roles axed on top of the 28,000 jobs the company said it would cut in September.

The lay-offs come as the entertainment company faces a drop in customer numbers at its theme parks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The job cuts will take place in the first half of 2021, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

Earlier in November, Disney said it was placing additional workers from its theme park in Southern California on furlough due to uncertainty over when the state would allow theme parks to reopen amid COVID-19 concerns.

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and those outside the US reopened earlier this year with strict social distancing, COVID-19 testing and mask use in place.

Disneyland Paris was forced to close again in October when France imposed a new lockdown to tackle a second wave of coronavirus cases in the country.

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The company’s theme parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo remain open.

Disney’s parks business has “fallen from a $6.8bn [£5bn] profit in 2019, to an $81m loss this year, and sales are continuing to slide,” according to Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“With COVID-19 cases still spiking in parts of the US and Europe, Disneyland in California is still closed and Disneyland Paris will remain shut until mid-February, losing the custom of the key Christmas season. While a vaccine might accelerate a return to normal in the parks business, it’s still likely to take months and possibly years before business is back to where it once was,” said Streeter.

“However, while its parks business flounders and cinema releases are stuck in limbo, Disney is making a bet on a digital first, streaming future. The launch of Disney+ was expensive but it means the group is now a key player in the streaming wars, which are intensifying as many movie theatres are slammed shut.”

Disney has been contacted for comment.

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