SmithKline Beckman Corp., the Philadelphia drug giant, said Wednesday that it will close its laboratory management systems unit in Brea at the end of the month, resulting in the layoff of 66 employees.
A spokesman for the company said that the glut of competitors scrambling for a limited amount of business was one of the reasons for shutting down the Brea unit, which markets and installs computer systems for small and medium-size hospitals.
“When you consider that the market we thought was going to be there did not develop, we had to decide whether to continue to invest in a questionable market or to close the business,” said Jim Dunn, products support manager for SmithKline Beckman. “The prudent decision was to close the business.”
Dunn said that disbanding the unit, which he said would post about $1 million in sales this year, would have no effect on the $3-billion corporation’s earnings. He said the company would help the 66 programmers, engineers, clerical and sales personnel to find other jobs.
Despite the closing, Dunn said, the company will continue to provide service for all the systems now in place. He would say only that the number of units amounted to “fewer than 100.”
“You have to depend on hospitals to buy these systems,” Dunn explained. “Because they are so cost-conscious, they are very reluctant to lay out any capital expenditures.”
SmithKline Beckman has about 32,000 employees worldwide and reported net earnings of $503.6 million in 1984 and $2.9 billion in sales.