Some Van Nuys Operations, Jobs to Be Lost : Ask Mr. Foster Travel Chain Revamps

Times Staff Writer

Ask Mr. Foster, the nation's second largest chain of travel agencies, announced a reorganization Friday that diminished the role of its president and will move some operations from Van Nuys to the Minneapolis area.

The firm, a unit of the privately held Carlson Cos. based in Minneapolis, said an undetermined number of the about 200 workers at its Van Nuys headquarters will lose their jobs, although some will be offered transfers to Minnesota.

The company also said its president, 50-year-old Hans de Lange, will step down to become president of Ask Mr. Foster's new Western Division, one of four divisions to be created in the next 90 days as part of the company's restructuring.

Three other divisional presidents will be hired soon, the company said, and all will report to John Ueberroth, president of the Carlson Travel Group in the Twin Cities. His brother Peter, the commissioner of baseball, owned the company from 1972 to 1979.

Move Result of Growth

A Carlson spokesman, Thomas D. Jardine, said the restructuring is the result of Ask Mr. Foster's growth rather than the changing travel business, which has seen its profit margins cut by increased competition and cheaper air fares.

Jardine also denied that there is any displeasure with De Lange, who was unavailable for comment. The company said in a prepared statement that "De Lange's decision to reduce his management responsibility was a matter of personal choice."

"It's just too much for one person," Jardine said. "It's become so big we're slicing it up into four pieces."

Jardine said the role of the Van Nuys office will be reduced but denied that the headquarters is moving to Minnesota. He did not disclose what operations will be moved from Van Nuys.

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