Molson Coors restructuring as beer sales decline

Molson Coors Brewing Co. is laying off 500 workers worldwide and restructuring its operations as it faces declining beer sales.

The company expects to save $150 million by closing offices in Denver and elsewhere and simplifying its structure. Its four business units — U.S., Canada, Europe and International — will be consolidated into North America and Europe, with other regions reporting to those two.

Chicago will be its North American headquarters. Support functions like finance and human resources that are scattered around the U.S. will now be based in Milwaukee.

Molson Coors says it will save approximately $150 million with the new structure. It will use those savings to improve its digital marketing capabilities and introduce new products more quickly, like the canned wine and hard coffee it unveiled this year. Molson Coors says it has been working on reducing the time it takes to bring new products to market from 18 months to as little as four months in the U.S.

Molson Coors is also continuing its previously announced plan to modernize its breweries and make them more flexible to meet consumer demand. The company’s brewery in Golden, Colorado, is the largest in the U.S., brewing up to 10 million barrels of beer each year.

“Our business is at an inflection point,” Molson Coors President and CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement. “We can continue down the path we’ve been on for several years now, or we can make the significant and difficult changes necessary to get back on the right track.”

Hattersley became president and CEO last month when CEO Mark Hunter retired.

Molson Coors is dropping “Brewing” from its name to emphasize that it makes more than beer. It will become Molson Coors Beverage Co. in January.

Beer sales were up 5% in Asia and Western Europe in 2018 and rose 6% in Eastern Europe, according to Euromonitor. But they were flat in the U.S. as canned cocktails, hard seltzers and craft beers stole share from big brewers. The company’s beer brands include Miller, Molson, Coors, Blue Moon, Pilsner Urquell and Foster’s. It also makes Henry’s Hard Soda.

Overall Molson Coors reported a third-quarter loss of $402.8 million on Wednesday. On a per-share basis, the company lost $1.86. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs and non-recurring costs, were $1.48 per share.

That exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, according to Zacks Investment Research. But the company’s adjusted revenue of $2.84 billion which fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

Molson Coors’ sales fell 3% to $8.1 billion in the first nine months of the year.

The company’s shares slipped 3.6% to $52.71 in midday trading.

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