Versar Inc., a Springfield government contractor, yesterday reported a loss of $1.4 million for its fiscal first quarter -- more than five times as much as it lost a year ago -- and launched a restructuring campaign that could require layoffs among its nearly 500 employees.
Revenue fell to $13.9 million, from $15 million in the first quarter of the previous fiscal year. That's largely because a contract to provide chemical suits to the Army is winding down and Congress belatedly passed the defense budget, which postponed the start of some contracts, said James C. Dobbs, a company spokesman.
The company also set aside $800,000 during the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, for restructuring. While the plan hasn't been finalized, severance packages and the cost of closing some of the firm's 11 offices or moving to cheaper ones would be covered by the program, Dobbs said.
It is unclear how many employees -- 65 percent of which are in the D.C. area -- could be affected, he said.
"Nothing has been identified," Dobbs said. "We are working with the managers to make sure each of the offices are profitable."
The $1.4 million loss worked out to a per-share loss of 19 cents, compared with a loss of $248,000 (4 cents) last year, Dobbs said. Excluding the restructuring charge and a large tax deferment, Versar's financial performance was flat compared with last year's, though it still wasn't profitable, he said.
Versar's commercial business, which includes providing environmental consulting to the chemical industry and accounts for about 20 percent of the company's revenue, remained flat, Dobbs said.
"Because the economy is slow, it didn't pick up the slack for other parts of the business," he said.
The firm is still hopeful that homeland security initiatives will boost revenue, particularly if state and local entities begin conducting vulnerability assessments for biological or chemical weapons, he said.
"We see that as part of a growing business, but like a lot of things it hasn't been funded yet," Dobbs said.