Coca-Cola will eliminate an unspecified number of jobs within its North America Operating Unit under a voluntary separation program announced internally today. The employee reduction will set the stage for structural changes under incoming North America President Jennifer Mann to be announced later, BD has learned. Mann, who will succeed Alfredo Rivera in the role on Jan. 1, has met with hundreds of employees, franchise bottlers, and retail and foodservice customers to identify ways to reduce complexity and increase the speed of decision making within the operating unit, according to the company. “We are operating from a position of strength in North America: our brands are strong, we are in a growing industry, and you all are proud to work here,” Mann wrote in an internal memo to employees. “We also know we have opportunities to improve, and we want your experience in North America to match our great results.” The voluntary separations are about “operational effectiveness” and “not a productivity led exercise,” according to a company spokeswoman.
DETAILS. The voluntary separation packages are offered only to employees in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico who were hired prior to Jan. 1, 2020, according to the memo. Employees will decide between Nov. 14 and Nov. 18 whether to accept the offer. Those taking a buyout will leave the company on March 15, 2023. The memo did not specify a target for the number of voluntary separations expected, and a spokeswomen declined to provide any targets or business areas of focus. The North America Operating Unit currently employs about 6,000, including at BodyArmor, Fairlife, and locations in Puerto Rico, according to Coke. Excluded from the buyouts are certain manufacturing and warehouse employees, as well as various part-time employees, those on long-term disability, and some on unpaid leaves of absence. The new program follows voluntary and involuntary separations in 2020 and 2021 that anticipated the elimination of 2,200 jobs as part of a global reorganization. The cuts were to include as many as 1,200 jobs in the US, including at the corporate level and within the North America Operating Unit.
EVOLVING STRUCTURE. Before the 2020 announced reorganization, the North America operation was made up of four distinct business units organized around separate routes to market: 1) bottler delivered bottles and cans, 2) food service on premise (fountain), 3) Minute Maid, and 4) Canada. Those business units were reorganized under a unified management structure to essentially erase the lines within the North America Operating Unit. The change, especially within Coke’s roughly 70% market share fountain soft drink business, has created friction inside and outside of Coke, including with bottlers and customers, according to BD sources. Mann’s coming structural work could help alleviate those issues, as well as bottler frustrations related to the company’s effectiveness with large national retail customers, the sources said. Incoming North America COO Marcelo Boffi also has participated in “listening sessions” with employees, bottlers, and customers. When asked about a timeline for any changes, Coca-Cola representatives declined to comment, saying only that Mann believes the 2020 consolidation was the appropriate move at the time and is focused on a “new chapter” within the organization.
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