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Symantec CEO: I'll AXE up to 4 in 10 execs by July

How the cookie crumbles when profit tumbles 66%

Symantec's profits collapsed last quarter amid a company-wide restructure that will axe bosses and rejig routes to market.

For the final three months of fiscal 2013, which ended 31 March, the company's earnings tumbled 66 per cent on the year before to $188m (£121m). Turnover climbed four per cent to $1.748bn (£1.13bn), the largest organic growth rate in five years.

The consumer arm of the security and storage biz made up 30 per cent of revenues, Security & Compliance represented 30 per cent of sales, Storage and Server Management accounted for 36 per cent and Services four per cent.

Stephen Bennett, CEO and president of the security and storage software maker, is in the midst of a giant reorg in a bid to create Symantec 4.0 - he is the fourth chief at the firm. He has promised to turn around the firm's ailing fortunes.

"We delivered better-than-expected results for the quarter and the year," he said in a conference call with analysts.

Sales for the whole year grew three per cent to $6.9bn (£4.45bn) and the profit decline was less severe, dropping 34.7 per cent to $765m (£493m).

Bennett who came on board to replace ousted chief exec Enrique Salem in October, initiated a turnaround plan in January, vowing to slash bureaucracy and invigorate sales.

The re-org is expected to axe up to 1,000 staffers, and EMEA boss John Brigden has moved back to the US to be succeeded by the veep for Northern Europe Matt Ellard.

Bennett said on the analyst call last night that "FY 2014 will be different. Many critical things will be changing like completing the streamlining of our management structure", due by the end of July.

"We are reducing the number of layers and increasing spans of control for our managers to industry standard levels in an attempt to increase the speed of decision making, and improve accountability and execution," the CEO added.

He expects that 30 to 40 per cent of management positions will be eliminated - "we will have fewer bigger jobs for our best and brightest" - and the vendor will lure "talent from the outside".

Symantec is merging its Norton and SEP portfolio as the "threat landscape evolves and the consumer and enterprise worlds continue to converge". The entire group will be split into ten focus areas to minimise confusion for partners and customers.

Routes to market have not escaped the CEO's beady eye either: Symantec is creating a renewals team; concentrating the direct sales peeps on new business wins; overhauling the sales compensation programme; and converting generalist sales bods into Information Management or Information Security specialists.

Bennett said channel partners can expect a revamped channel strategy too and a fresh "set of partner programmes".

Deals with computer makers will also be scrutinised, he added, and his executives "will not sign any new agreement that don't make financial sense".

All this upheaval could impact results in the short term, the company warned, and it is forecasting revenue growth of zero to 2 per cent for fiscal 2014. ®

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