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Danone among food, beverage cos. to announce job cuts in recent months

Editorial credit: ricochet64 / Shutterstock.com Danone 2021
Several food and beverage behemoths, including Danone, have announced job cuts over the last several months.

Danone, the Paris-based food and beverage giant, is searching for a new chief executive after deciding to separate the functions of chairman and CEO.

The revelation followed news in 2020 that Danone was slashing jobs amid a challenging year.

In a March 1 announcement, the company disclosed it has commenced a process to recruit a new chief executive.

In the meantime, Emmanuel Faber will remain chairman and CEO. Faber, a former investment banker, became CEO of Danone in October 2014 and has served in the dual capacity as CEO and chairman since Dec. 1, 2017.

The upcoming leadership change wasn’t entirely unexpected. Shareholders had called for a management shakeup, with pressure on Danone’s CEO growing as the company’s shares lost one-fourth of their value in 2020 and sales shrunk for the first time in more than 30 years, Bloomberg reported.

In 2020, Danone’s sales dropped 6.6% on a reported basis to 23.6 billion euros. In a Feb. 19 press release concerning Danone’s annual results, Faber characterized 2021 as “a year of recovery,” with plans to achieve sales growth as early as the second quarter.

Job cuts

Danone announced plans in November to cut upwards of 2,000 jobs, or about 2% of its 100,000-strong workforce, as part of a broader strategy to achieve 1 billion euros in cost savings by 2023.

Danone is just one of many food and beverage behemoths that have announced job cuts over the last several months.

Among the announcements:

  • J.M. Smucker Co. in late February verified plans to lay off an unspecified number of employees in North America due to changed consumer habits caused by the ongoing pandemic, the Akron Beacon-Journal reported. The company wants “to create a leaner and flatter organization, ensuring that we align ownership accountability, incentives and so forth to the financial statements, and we do have high confidence this is going to make us more agile,” Mark Smucker, president and CEO of J.M. Smucker, said during an earnings call with analysts, according to a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha.
  • In a Feb. 22 LinkedIn post, Clif Bar CEO Sally Grimes announced plans to cut about 125 current roles across the company. “We are a tight-knit culture at Clif Bar, which makes this a painful announcement, even though these are the right choices for the company to continue to thrive in the long run,” she wrote. The privately held company wants to double its revenues, which were US$900 million in 2019, San Francisco Business Times reported. As of 2020, Clif Bar had about 1,100 employees, the publication said.
  • The Coca-Cola Co. in December revealed it’s slashing 2,200 jobs globally, including 1,200 in the U.S. Coke planned to make the job cuts through a combination of voluntary separation programs and involuntary layoffs. And Coke anticipated severance programs to result in expenses of $350 million to $550 million, according to a statement Coke distributed to media outlets in December. At the end of 2019, the company had a total global headcount of 86,200. As part of a reorganization announced in August and continuing into 2021, Coke outlined five goals in its statement to media: "win more consumers; gain market share; strong system economics; strengthen stakeholder impact; [and] equip the organization to win." 
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