Ford Motor Credit Co. is restructuring its operations in the U.S. and Canada in an effort to reduce global costs and improve operating efficiencies.

Spearheading the changes are the consolidation of 59 U.S. branches into six existing service centers, along with the reduction of about 2,000 positions from the company’s 8,600 person-strong workforce in North America.

The cuts are the latest in a string of reductions at Ford Motor Co.’s finance arm, which has closed nearly 110 branches in the U.S. and Canada since 2003, the company says.

The centralization of the U.S. branches will allow for the creation of several new business centers that will be tasked with managing originations, dealer credit and wholesale operations. The centers also will retain their current servicing functions.

The consolidation is expected to be completed by the end of 2007, with a similar effort planned for Ford Credit’s operations in Canada.

Ford Motor Credit Canada currently has seven branches and one service center.

Despite the shakeup, sales employees working directly with dealers will remain in their local markets to maintain their dealer connections.

“Many of the same Ford Motor Credit salespeople who call on our dealers today will continue to do so going forward,” says A.J. Wagner, president-Ford Motor Credit North America.

“Our salespeople have a unique understanding of our dealer’s market and business issues and are in the best position to provide them with practical solutions to support their business.”

As for personnel reductions, the company hopes to achieve them though attrition, early retirement and voluntary separations, with involuntary separations instituted only if necessary.