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Amazon to Cut Product Offerings, Drop Layoff Clause

On the heels of announcing significant layoffs, beleaguered Amazon is also trimming its product offerings.

In a companywide memo, the e-tailing giant stated that said it would focus on its core book business and discontinue sales of unprofitable items.

The goal is to improve supply-chain management, Ling Hong, Amazon.com spokersperson, told internetnews.com. "Our goal is to still be the destination point for online purchases of books, music and related products," she said. "However, we plan to do it smarter. Whether it is a packaged item in a bundle or working with manufacturers or selling those items through third parties, we aim to do it as efficiently and as intelligently as possible.

"If we lose money on any single item, it will be a conscious, deliberate item on our part," she added. "For instance, we had a promotional campaign on Harry Potter books that actually lost money, but the number of new customers we attracted made our investment well worth it."

In related news, Amazon.com has dropped the non-disclosure clause from its layoff package. The company had originally told its laid-off workers that they would each receive an extra six weeks' pay and $500 by inking an agreement that included a promise to not make disparaging remarks about their former employer.

"We listened to our employees," said Bill Curry, Amazon.com spokesman. "They're going through a difficult time right now and we decided that, if it was causing that much additional pain for them, the better thing to do is get rid of it."

The idea that hourly employees sign a nondisclosure agreement drew ire from employees, as well as labor groups. "Workers should be allowed to receive a full severance package without conditions of signing away their rights," Gretchen Wilson, an organizer with the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, told the New York Times.

Amazon.com is still asking employees to sign the agreement, but said that the nondisclosure clause could be deleted. Employees who do not sign the agreement will receive only the standard two-weeks severance pay.

The layoffs and product trimming is part of the etailer's strategy to turn a profit by the fourth quarter of this year.

At press time, the company's stock was trading at $15.31, down by 0.94.