MillerCoors is cutting 360 positions, which includes laying off 200 salaried employees, in response to the tough sales conditions facing the company and beer industry.
"To realize our ambition, we must have the financial flexibility required to seize opportunities and address challenges head-on," CEO Tom Long and Ed McBrien, president of sales and distributor operations, said in a memo to distributors. "Given our current fixed-cost base, we can't meet these long-term investment requirements. Simply put, our fixed-cost base is too high and our organizational structure is too complex."
In a statement, the brewer confirmed that "approximately 200 salaried employees will be leaving the organization and another 160 open salaried positions will be eliminated." The Chicago-based brewer employs about 8,800 people nationally. The cuts will be spread across "all functions of the company," including sales and marketing, a spokesman told Ad Age. The cuts are meant to "help the company meet long-term investment requirements in its brands and breweries while at the same time achieve its operating margin and profitability goals."
The distributor memo cited a "period of rapid and disruptive change" in the U.S. beer industry, including "consumer fragmentation, continued high unemployment and increased competition from wine and spirits."
SABMiller, which holds a joint-ownership stake in MillerCoors along with Molson Coors, reported last week that MillerCoors sales to retailers fell 1.9% in the quarter ending Sept. 30, with Miller Lite dropping "mid-single digits" and Coors Light down "low-single digits."
The brewer is hoping to spur sales next year with several new products, including Miller Fortune, a higher-alcohol line extension, as well as a citrus-flavored seasonal line extension of Coors Light, called Coors Light Summer Brew. The brewer is also expected to invest more marketing in its economy brands, including Miller High Life and Keystone Light.