HP Cancels Holiday Break for Some U.S. Sales Staff

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), the world's largest personal-computer maker, is canceling its two-week holiday break for some U.S. sales employees because they need to spend the time closing deals, according to an internal e-mail.

"This is a business critical decision, one that was not made lightly," Randy Seidl, head of Americas sales for the enterprise storage, server and networking group, said in the Dec. 4 e-mail. The company's goals for increasing sales and market share in the quarter ending in January "make this action a business necessity."

Employees in the unit will be required to work over the companywide holiday break that begins Dec. 21, Hewlett-Packard confirmed to Bloomberg News yesterday. It's up to each business unit to determine what staff they need during that period, spokesman Michael Thacker said.

"We need all hands on deck to have every business opportunity uncovered and every deal closed," wrote Seidl, a former sales executive with Sun Microsystems (JAVA) who joined Hewlett-Packard in September. "It is our understanding that many customers are willing to invest in information technology before budgets close at the end of the calendar year."

Sales of servers and storage devices accounted for 14 percent of revenue last quarter. Hewlett-Packard, which agreed to buy networking-gear maker 3Com Corp. last month for $2.7 billion, doesn't disclose sales of its networking products.

U.S.-based employees in the unit were notified this week that they wouldn't be able to take vacation over the holiday shutdown, Thacker said. Last year, Hewlett-Packard extended the holiday break to two weeks from one week, part of an effort to cut costs. Employees are required to use their vacation days during the break.

The sales employees working over the holidays won't lose their vacation days and can carry them over into next year, Seidl said in an e-mail.

Hewlett-Packard, based in Palo Alto, California, fell 27 cents to $48.94 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange (NYX) composite trading. The shares have added 35 percent this year.

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