The latest reports from the Latvian Commercial Banks Association have predicted that the unemployment rate in the country will reach double digit figures in the first half of the year. The association said that by not reducing the number of employees in time, companies have caused a situation where there are too many people losing jobs in a short period of time, leaving other companies unable to absorb such a large number of job seekers. Unemployment rose from 6.2 percent in 2008 at the beginning of the year to almost 8 percent at the end of the year, and will reach double-digit figures early in 2009. "The slow restructurization in 2007-08 has led to the rapid aggravation of Latvia's economic situation. For example, keeping to the large number of employees, even though industrial output is dropping, now has lead to a situation similar to popping out of a cork 's labor productivity is dropping, profits are decreasing, unemployment pressure is growing, and in the fall companies have actively started laying off people," the report said.
Renatas Vaitkevicius, co-founder and shareholder of Maxima's parent company VP Group, has been appointed CEO of the retailer's Estonian subsidiary Maxima Eesti OU. Vaitkevicius was among the founders of the VP Market retail chain in 1992 and managed the establishment of the Euroapteek pharmacy chain in Estonia. For the last two years he has been in charge of the real estate projects of VP Group. The Maxima chain that is active in all the Baltic countries has 437 stores, including 231 in Lithuania, 127 in Latvia and 51 Estonia. In Bulgaria the chain has 28 outlets. The retailer employs more than 27,000 people.
Lithuanian workers at the Mazeikiai Nafta Oil Refinery face job losses as the refinery's parent company, PKN Orlen, had its worst year ever in 2008, Kauno Diena reported. With PKN Orlen expected to post a record high loss of 1.2 billion zlotys (265.38 million euros) for 2008, the group's management's board discussed plans to sell some of the 120 companies the group controls. Dawid Piekarz, the group's press officer, has also said that cost-saving measures could include job cuts at Mazeikiu Nafta. "We are working on optimization programs for all companies. Everything will depend on how we manage to improve the efficiency of Mazeikiu Nafta's operations and logistics," he said of the Lithuanian refinery.