EUROPE: Anheuser-Bush InBev to merge European units mean more job losses?


Anheuser-Busch InBev is merging its Western Europe and Central & Eastern Europe units to tackle the “opportunities and challenges” it faces in the region.

The new single unit - 'Zone Europe' -will be based at the group's global headquarters in Leuven and led by Stuart MacFarlane, currently president of the brewer's central & eastern Europe business. The announcement came as the group on 31 October reported a 19% drop in beer volumes in Central & Eastern Europe in its third quarter, while volumes in Western Europe were flat.

Jo Van Biesbroeck, currently western Europe president and the company's chief strategy officer, will remain in his group strategy role and will also head AB InBev International, the brewer's global export and licensing operation.

The group said the move was to "better position the company to tackle the opportunities and challenges facing its business across Europe".

Asked by just-drinks if the move will lead to job losses, an AB InBev spokesperson said: "Over the coming weeks, we will review our structure. Where there would be changes, our goal will be to identify internal opportunities for colleagues who have the competencies and cultural alignment to help grow our Zone Europe."

The changes take effect from 1 January.

A year ago, rival brewer Molson Coors merged its Central Europe and UK & Ireland businesses.

Although AB InBev's group sales and profits saw single digit rises in the year-to-date, the company still chooses to do more cost savings and the burden is only carried by the workers who made redundant. The IUF will communicate with its members organized in the European operations of AB InBev and understand what this merge will mean for the workers and move accordingly.