Big Beer continues to navigate the choppy waters that occur when they acquire so many craft brewers in such a short time. This week, Anheuser-Busch reportedly laid off some 380 employees from their creatively named “High End” business unit.
The layoffs eliminated nearly 90% of High End’s sales division according to Forbes. Parent company AB InBev was quick to issue a statement noting that the cuts amounted to “only” 2% of the conglomerate’s 18,000 North American employees.
Launched in 2014, High End is the product of Anheuser Bush’s recent binge purchasing of craft(y) breweries in an attempt to keep market share in a rapidly changing market. The group of acquisitions include Goose Island, Blue Point Brewing, Elysian Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Four Peaks Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, and Virtue Cider, among others.
“Over the last few years, we have entered into a series of new partnerships, and as our business has grown, we have added more than 2,000 new employees, particularly sales team members in the field, bringing our total number of employees to over 18,000,” explained A-B’s official response. “As a result, our organizational structure has become overly complex in places.”
The company stressed the need for a “single contact point.” Also of note, none of the laid off personnel were direct employees of the acquired craft breweries, who were all corporate employees. Andy Goeler’s much ballyhooed “CEO of Craft” position has also been eliminated, according to Brewbound. Instead, Goeler will assume a VP of Marketing role. These large scale changes point towards an increased emphasis on regional, self contained operations—the very model that led to High End’s original inception.
At the close of Friday’s (9.08) trading on the NYSE, AB InBev (BUD) was up$0.28, trading at $121.49 a share.