Anheuser-Busch Lays Off Dozens of Brewery Workers

Anheuser-Busch InBev has eliminated nearly 40 jobs across North America, Brewbound has learned.

In a statement issued last Friday, A-B said it was making “a limited number of targeted changes” to its North American “supply organization.”

“The changes, which affect a small number of salaried positions, are intended to better align our operations with our commercial strategy and to further reduce complexity,” the company said.

The layoffs were first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which noted that affected employees on A-B’s brewing team in St. Louis were notified of the job cuts on Thursday.

Last week’s cuts come about 15 months after A-B eliminated nearly 2 percent of its North American workforce in a move that impacted approximately 350 employees.

A-B joins a growing list of beer companies that have downsized their workforces in 2018, including Constellation Brands, Pabst Brewing Company, Lagunitas, New Belgium, Green Flash, Ninkasi, and Avery Brewing, among others.

Through the first nine months of 2018, A-B’s U.S. revenues have declined 1.4 percent. Meanwhile, the company’s two flagship brands — Bud Light and Budweiser — continue to lose volume although both still rank among the top five selling beers in off-premise retailers in the U.S.

During a third-quarter earnings call with investors and analysts in October, A-B CEO Carlos Brito outlined a new commercial strategy in the U.S. built upon five pillars with a goal of improving sales:

  • Building relevant brands that create authentic connections and inspire consumer loyalty.
  • Leading trade up to higher-end offerings.
  • Stabilizing the performance of its mainstream lager brands, which are an “entry point” to the beer category for new consumers.
  • Gaining share of the beyond beer segment, which Brito said offers a significant growth opportunity but requires sustained innovation pipeline to satisfy consumers’ evolving tastes.
  • Leading category growth through innovation.

Leading the commercial reorganization is Michel Doukeris, who was promoted from chief sales officer to A-B’s North American CEO in November 2017. A-B has embarked on a number of organizational changes since Doukeris was promoted.

In July, the company split its “High End” craft and import division into two separate business units, and, in the process, eliminated fewer than 10 positions.

A month later, as part of Doukeris’ commercial reorganization plan, A-B divided its marketing efforts into five segments — Premium & Super Premium, Core + Value, Beyond Beer, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra — and announced several sales leadership changes.

Meanwhile, Felipe Szpigel, who had led A-B’s High End and craft business units since October 2014, announced in October he would vacate his post to launch a new venture in the “beyond beer” space.

A-B has since tapped Marcelo “Mika” Michaelis, the former vice president of sales for “region 7,” which includes California, Nevada and Arizona, as Szpigel’s replacement.

A-B will report its full-year 2018 earnings on February 28, 2019.

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