The effects of the pandemic on the corporate end of the beverage business are becoming evident as fiscal years wrap up. In a bad omen for Big Beer, Heineken announced that after a dismal year, the conglomerate will lay off 8000 employees, representing about 10% of their workforce.
The layoffs are part of a massive two year restructuring announced by the brewer. The plan calls for cutting €2 billion ($2.4 billion) in costs while spending about €420 million ($509 million) to increase efficiency and shift focus.
The announcement follows the news Heineken reported a net loss of €204 million ($247.6 million) in 2020. In the previous year, the company posted a profit of €2.2 billion ($2.7 billion) the previous year. Leadership fingered COVID lockdowns, specifically in the European market, as the catalyst for the poor numbers.
“The impact of the pandemic on our business was amplified by our on-trade and geographic exposure,” newly installed CEO Dolf van den Brink observed in a statement.
One bright spot for the company were tripled sales numbers from Heineken’s direct-to-consumer outlets, such as Beerwulf, Six2Go and Drinkies. Keeping with industry trends, non-alcoholic drinks also surged during the last year. Likewise, the brand noted plans to move forward with a surge into the popular hard seltzer category including a US partnership to distribute an alcoholic version of Arizona Iced Tea.