MillerCoors cuts 520 jobs with brewery closure

US brewing giant MillerCoors is shutting its Eden, North Carolina brewery over the next 12 months, forcing 520 job losses as it battles a “fragmented” beer market.

The Milwaukee Miller brewery, one of several breweries where production will be sent after Eden's closure (Photo: Wiki)

The Milwaukee Miller brewery, one of several breweries where production will be sent after Eden’s closure (Photo: Wiki)

The “difficult” decision to close the brewery was taken because of a “significant overlap in distribution” between it and another of the company’s breweries 200 miles away, a company statement released on Monday (14 September) said.

Fernando Palacios of MillerCoors said the closure is in order to “optimise our brewery footprint and streamline operations for greater efficiency across our remaining seven breweries”.

The job losses will be gradually phased in over the next 12 months as production is sent to the company’s other breweries across the US, according to local press reports.

MillerCoors management allegedly sent home the brewery’s 520 employees when they informed them they would be losing their jobs. The brewery is Rockingham County’s third largest employer, it is reported.

No plans have yet been announced to help distribute the affected workers into new roles at the company. “We will work with community leaders to make sure we continue to support the community while we are brewing beer in Eden”, Mr Palacios said.

In 2014, Eden produced 7.1 million barrels of beer, which were shipped to 280 distributors across the country. However, since the creation of MillerCoors as a joint project between SABMiller and Molson Coors seven years ago, the group’s volume sales have declined by nearly 10 million barrels.

“This volume loss is due to a variety of factors, including economic challenges, an explosion of choice and fragmentation within the beer business”, the company said, the latter point referring to the growth of craft beer and its effect on big brewers.

Not only is the company scaling down its production and cutting jobs to counter the threat of craft beer, but it is also seeking to enter the craft sector through buyouts of small but rapidly growing breweries.

Last week, MillerCoors announced it was taking over San Diego craft brewery Saint Archer for what is estimated to be $35 million, although the exact details of the purchase were not revealed.

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