MillerCoors looking to boost agility, financial flexibility through restructuring

MillerCoors today laid out a new corporate structure that the company said will create a leaner, more nimble organization with the financial flexibility to invest more in its brands and capitalize on new opportunities.

As part of a restructuring announced last month, MillerCoors eliminated about 375 positions, in part by not filling about 150 open roles. A majority of the remainder were via a voluntary severance program. Many will use the severance as a bridge to retirement, MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley said in notes sent today to distributors and employees. He said the company accepted nearly all employees who raised their hands to take the voluntary package.

“We took a hard look at how we could create an organization that could make decisions faster and move more quickly, and we realigned our business accordingly,” Hattersley said. “Our new structure is now in place and we believe it positions us well moving forward.”

The changes also included significant reshuffling of the MillerCoors marketing organization, which includes several major changes to its leadership team. The company appointed new leaders for its economy brands portfolio and the Coors family of brands.

Ryan Reis returns to brand marketing, taking over the Coors family of brands after a stint as vice president of field marketing. Josh Wexelbaum, who formerly headed the company’s emerging brands, takes over the economy portfolio, which includes brands such as Keystone Light, Hamm’s and Milwaukee’s Best.

Hattersley also said the company is narrowing its search for a new chief marketing officer and remains “committed to finding the right person to advance our marketing efforts and optimize our brand portfolio.”

On the sales side, MillerCoors consolidated Texas to two management units, down from three, and moved New Mexico to the Arizona/Las Vegas management unit.

The changes come amid a tough year for MillerCoors and the broader beer industry. Volume for the overall industry is down 0.7 percent year-to-date through Oct. 13, according to Nielsen cross-channel and convenience data. MillerCoors volumes are off 3.6 percent. On top of that, cost pressures continue to mount. Aluminum pricing is near historical highs in part because of new tariffs and freight costs have soared because of a national trucker shortage.

Hattersley said the changes give MillerCoors the “right structure and the right people to get our business back on track.”

The company plans to continue working to get its portfolio of American light lagers, such as Coors Light and Miller Lite, back to growth; stabilize its portfolio of economy beers; and grow sales and share in the above premium segment with brands such as Arnold Palmer Spiked, Sol, Blue Moon, Peroni and Crispin Rosé, and innovations set for release in 2019 including Sol Chelada and Cape Line.

“It’s been a tough year,” Hattersley said. “But I know the quality of our people and our brands, and I believe we have a bright future ahead.”