Heineken to slash 8,000 jobs as pandemic strikes brewer

Heineken plans to slash 8,000 jobs and target €2 billion in savings over two years as current Chief Executive Officer Dolf van den Brink reshapes the world’s second-largest brewer in a pandemic that has dealt the beverage industry the hardest blow in decades.

Van den Brink, who took over last year, said on Wednesday that he would cut almost 10% of the Dutch brewer’s 85,000-strong workforce as part of a campaign to restore profits and raise productivity.

The plans accompany Heineken’s switch to a loss in 2020. On Wednesday, the breweries of Amstel, Tiger, and Moretti posted a net loss of €204 million for the year, down from €2.2 billion in earnings a year ago, following the closing of pubs and bars during the pandemic, a 17 percent drop in turnover to €23.8 billion.

Heineken is the first of the three major multinational breweries to report sweeping job cuts following the start of the pandemic, while the larger competitor Anheuser-Busch InBev has suspended 550 temporary staff at its factory in South Africa, and has repeatedly enforced a ban on alcohol amid the epidemic.

“Our on-trade [pubs, bars, and restaurants] and geographical exposure have amplified the impact of the pandemic on our company,” said van den Brink, adding that this year Heineken expects sales, operating income, and margins below 2019 levels.

He said his specific definition “is about the firm’s growth so we can deliver superior profitable development.” The climate is changing, the market is changing, and consequently, we need to adapt.

This will seek to get Heineken closer to clients, expand interactive practices and “stretch beer and move beyond beer.”

This will feature further rollouts of no and low-alcohol beverages, such as the popular Heineken 0.0 brand of the firm, and the recently trendy flavored alcoholic carbonated water drinks, hard seltzers. Heineken’s production of hard seltzers was comparatively late, but the Pure Piraña and Amstel Ultra Seltzer products were released in 2020.

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