Coca-Cola is cutting 2,200 jobs, including more than 10% of its US workforce, as it scraps half its drinks brands

FILE PHOTO: Boxes of Coca-Cola are seen at a grocery store in Los Angeles, California U.S. November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Boxes of Coca-Cola are seen at a grocery store in Los Angeles

Coca-Cola is laying off 2,200 workers as part of a larger restructuring aimed at paring down its business units and brands, the drinks giant announced Thursday.

Around 1,200 of the layoffs will occur in the US, it said, including roughly 500 in Atlanta, where the company is based.

Coke employed 86,200 people worldwide at the end of 2019, including 10,400 in the US.

The coronavirus pandemic has hammered Coke’s business, as sales at places like stadiums and movie theaters dried up due to lockdowns. Its revenue fell 9% year-on-year to $8.7 billion between July and September.

The downturn forced the company to accelerate a restructuring that was already underway.

“We’ve been challenging legacy ways of doing business and the pandemic helped us realize we could be bolder in our efforts,” Coke Chairman and CEO James Quincey said during an earnings call in October.

Coke is reducing its brands by half to 200. It shed multiple slow-selling brands this year, including Tab, Zico, Odwalla, and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry.

The company said it will use the savings to invest in growing brands like Minute Maid and Simply juices and fund the launch of new products like Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, Coca-Cola Energy, and Aha sparkling water.

Coke is also reducing its business segments from 17 to nine.

The severance programs will cost between $350 million to $550 million, the company said.

The company began offering voluntary buyouts to employees in August. Coke wouldn’t disclose how many employees took those offers.

The layoffs won’t impact Coke’s bottlers, which are largely independent. Including bottlers, the company employs more than 700,000 people worldwide.

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