Brewing giant Heineken has announced plans to cut nearly 10% of its global workforce as the coronavirus pandemic badly affects sales.
About 8,000 jobs are at risk, including some at the firm’s Amsterdam HQ.
In the UK, however, out of 2,300 jobs fewer than 100 jobs are likely to go across the business, with the employee consultation process launched in October now finished.
A UK spokesperson for the company said: “The closure of pubs in March and subsequent restrictions, including over the Christmas period, have had an impact on sales volumes of beer and cider for the full year.”
The company is the world’s second-largest brewer, with Heineken being Europe’s top selling lager. It also owns the Fosters, Kronenbourg and Bulmers brands among many others.
Covid and the labour market
Although Heineken had seen increased sales in supermarkets, this had not made up for the impact of the pandemic on its pub trading.
“The NHS vaccination programme is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we look forward to welcoming back consumers to pubs across the country as soon as it is safe to do so,” the spokesperson said.
Heineken said that to date it had made £44m in rent reductions for its Star Pubs & Bars licensees, and it called on the government to continue support for the pubs sector including an extension of rates relief and a cut in VAT.
Company chief executive Dolf van den Brink, who took charge of the company in June, said vaccination programmes in Europe, North America and some more developed countries in Asia would allow a slow return to normal trading, but 2020-21 has been a year of unprecedented disruption. “Only when the whole world is vaccinated to a certain degree can we say we really come out of it,” he said.
Two of Heineken’s largest markets are Brazil and Mexico, which are well behind the UK when it comes to vaccination roll out.
Job cuts will fall throughout the business after a review of Heineken’s Amsterdam head office, regional offices and local operations.
The beer giant said that it had been planning to restructure its business before the pandemic, but that the Covid-19 crisis had accelerated its plans.
As it announced the job cuts, Heineken also reported a net loss for 2020 of €109m (£96m), having made a €1.15bn net profit the year before.
Heineken UK’s largest site is in Edinburgh, where 600 employees are located. There are also sites in London, home to its HR, marketing and finance operations; Ledbury, Herefordshire, where Strongbow and other ciders are made; and breweries in Tadcaster and Manchester.