Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Headlines

Brutal day as Anheuser Busch lays off hundreds of employees in “The High End” 

Anheuser Busch made some major cuts in their “High End” today, eliminating nearly 400 jobs.

Sometime around 10 pm last evening, representatives for The High End, including High End district managers started getting calendar invites for phone conferences with Budweiser Human Resources. This morning, the ax started to drop.

In a conference call with Alex Medicis, the Vice President of Sales for AB InBev North America, (concluding just after 3:45 pm this afternoon) most of the employees working with The High End have been let go.

According to Medicis, Anheuser-Busch is rethinking the business model surrounding the High End, centering more on efficiency. Cuts were made coast to coast.

Per Mike Seabaugh, High End Sales Rep,  AB’s explanation centered around brewery acquisitions. “Basically, they’ve bought quite a few breweries and with those purchases came a bunch of employees. They don’t have room for us anymore”, he said.

The High End won’t comment on the exact number of employees, speaking on background “that less than 2% of the 18,000 employees have in North America were impacted.” According to that math, that’s around 360 employees.

It was also mentioned that after meeting with various wholesalers around the country, the general consensus is that the employees and managers for The High End were superfluous.

Beer Street Journal is told that employees that work directly for breweries purchased for Anheuser-Busch’s High End portfolio – Goose Island, 10 Barrel, Elysian, Blue Point, Wicked Weed, Four Peaks, Devil’s Backbone, Breckenridge, and Karbach, will retain their positions at the respective breweries.

Editors Note: A representative with The High End contacted Beer Street Journal about the above piece. More information has not been provided. (4:45pm)

This is a developing story. This article will be updated with more information as it becomes available. 

43 thoughts on “Brutal day as Anheuser Busch lays off hundreds of employees in “The High End” 

  1. Seems like there isn’t a clear strategy – why hire that many people and then eliminate the (presumably) entire structure they were hired to build. Smells of not having a thoughtful plan or vision.

    • They hired them to do a job, they did it, and they don’t need them anymore. Everyone assumes layoffs are because a business is doing bad, or didn’t plan, when usually it’s just a smart business move.

        • Sounds like you’re one of the plebs that gets laid off. Most people, like you, aren’t in a position to run a business and lay people off – so they only see the negative side of it and assume there can be no ‘good’ reason. Understandable. You only have your perspective (:

          • I take a family’s mortgage, power, and grocery bill and under careful consideration before making hiring/firing decisions. It’s irresponsible to hire individuals away from gainful employment when knowing there’s an near end in sight to a business unit. That would be corporate irresponsibility at its finest. However, in this case, the High End was not where the layoffs ceased. Unfortunately, the layoffs were further reaching and when/if full details are disclosed, you will be aware of such. Nearly half of the ABI US sales force was laid off today. This article was presumptuous. Be advised that livelihoods were are at stake and your business acumen is of little consolation.

        • Well it is obviously true sometimes (capital projects, seasonal jobs, etc). And this is likely one of those times. Originally, AV-InBev’s “High End” was based around beers they created in house (e.g., “Shock Top”). That required staff. As they began acquiring more and more breweries, each of which was promised a certain level of autonomy and that they could keep their own staffs, positions in the in house “High End” became duplicative and unnecessary. Also, realistically, they no longer require creative brewers and stuff like that in house, their regular AB people can handle faux craft beers like Shock Top and they will rely on Goose Island and Elysian and the like to innovate for them–to the extent they will innovate.

          I wouldn’t be very optimistic that this is indicative of a lack of strategy or a downturn with regard to InBev’s “craft” division.

      • That’s fine. It’d be nice if they were told their jobs were temporary ones, thou. I guarantee you that all of the high end portfolio employees (breweries they’ve acquired) won’t feel very secure job wise looking at ABI’s track record. I for one respect the rules and they are entitled to do so, just as i am entitled not to buy their beers. After what happened with WW, my guess is they will have a problem. I seriously doubt their valuations took into account a heavy hit in terms of credibility and brand equity for becoming part of the ABI family, like it happened during their last M&A. Won’t have a big impact in the short term (more distribution will have bigger and positive impact), but it will grow. Writing’s on the wall: WW’s master brewer left before the transaction was announced, closely related breweries stopped selling WW in their tap rooms and cancelled participation from shared events. Retailers telling stories about people buying the “last WW beers” being sold. And the most important thing: cutting overhead cost is a last resort measure. It’s one of the most expensive adjustments you can make (plus social backslash, etc.). Think what that means in terms of product quality.

    • It’s part of working for Corporate America, they build things up and then lay off the older/higher paid employees and bring in cheaper labor to run it. I’ve been laid off at the same job twice. (I eventually learned not to go back, ha ha)

  2. Did no one here ready the article? They are getting rid of redundant staff they got when they purchased the high end breweries. Not the actual brewery workers but people they acquired from these breweries that do marketing, finances, etc. They didn’t hire people just to lay them off as others here are implying, just getting rid of redundant personnel from their acquisitions, just like many companies do.

    I hate InBev/AB as much as the next craft brewer but at least be informed and read the actual article here people.

    • As kindly as I can say it, it appears you have also not read the article. No employees of the purchased breweries have been affected by today’s news.
      The firings were from ABI’s High End sales force, hired by ABI to sell the entire portfolio of High End beer. These employees were redundant because the acquired breweries already had sales teams and commitments were made to these breweries not to eliminate any staff.

      • It wasn’t just High End. Sales people that have worked there for years called Bams and Tams were all fired nationwide and those jobs weren’t redundant. The amount of money they waste on concert event and pro sports tix is the truly amazing part. Sickening Really! The amount of free tickets handed out nationwide could easily support a staff of 5000.
        The “American Tradition” known as Budweiser s over and I will not ever purchase again.

    • You didn’t read the article. They are retaining all of the employees from the individual breweries, and dissolving the high end, which is (was) a separate sales division that sold all of these brands in areas where the brewery sales team didn’t cover. Example: a HE rep in Seattle would sell Stella, Shock Top, Goose, Golden Road, Four Peaks, etc. Elysian has their own sales team that covers their “home” market (defined as a 500 mile radius from the brewery), and I assume 10 Barrel would also have their own Seattle rep given their close proximity.

      Around 600 people were laid off, probably a little less than half of the US sales team. How do I know this? I’m one of those people. This was done very suddenly and without any respect for the people it affected. Other than a 10 minute conference call with my SD and some robot from HR where they read from a script, I have not received any communication whatsoever as to why this was done. I shit you not, I had 24 hours to return my company car to my wholesaler during business hours and get this- was responsible for my own ride home. Pales in comparison to what some other people are going through though- from what I understand, the sales team in FL didn’t even get a call because of the hurricane. They found out they were getting laid off through text messages with their colleagues.

  3. Who drinks that crappy watered down shit they call beer anyway. Corporate piss is what it tastes like.( Piss Light). Rotten Bastards bought out AB and are running it into the ground.

  4. In addition to High End employees being let go today (this was no great loss) they also let some Sales Directors, Category Management Directors, regular District Managers, Key Account Managers, Trade Marketing Managers, Senior District Managers and all of the Brand Activation Managers go. But I am pretty sure not one Brazilian was let go. That is the real story here, more and more of the American employees being shown the door while they bring more and more ex-pats in to take US positions.

  5. AB were corporate villains before the Belgians & Brazilians came to complete a troika of similiar minds.
    Volume will always equal profit as per all conglomerates of whatever industry, It’s how they survive to feed their avaricious shareholders & senior execs options & salaries – they call it ‘compensation what a joke, the folks who never see a compensation in all that is you the consumer.
    Wise up, support your craft brewers, most of whom have gone out on a limb to bring you something different & worth drinking, when did AB, Coors, Miller etc. ever do that.
    Good riddance High End, twas always a scam to kid you into believing MegaBrew really were soft & cuddly.

  6. AB has planned the firing of 5000 people with redundant jobs since the merger with in InBev. This information has been public and is certainly not new.

    This year there has been a glut of high-end brands in the market and sales have been declining across that segment of the market. ABs stock spiked and then returned to traditional levels. Always a sign of speculation and eminent layoffs. Interestingly real craft-brewers are still growing.

    This from Market Watch: “When the growth stopped, we had overbuilt,” Boston Beer’s chief executive Martin Roper said in an email. “Our first reaction was to wait to see if we could grow again…so it was a little bit of denial about the new flat-to-negative trends continuing.”

    It’s important to understand the merger layoffs were planned and controlled where the high-end glut was unplanned and the result of managerial incompetence. Nobody wants to seem incompetent so, no longer needed employees are sometimes shuffled around and then out with the hope of obscuring that managerial incompetence.

    From the moment you are hired you should always be planning your exit. You should be monitoring the health of your employer for signs of weakness. Mergers and gluts are clear signs your job might be in jeopardy.

    No one cares about your mortgage or children except you. While there are laws in place to limit the most egregious behavior of companies you are the captain of your ship whether you like it or not. Any government is balance between the powerful and the many so If you don’t like it you should express your unhappiness to you government representatives to enact laws that protect you from them.

    But that doesn’t mean the Bob up there is not a troll. Troll’s are often sociopaths driven by feelings of impotence. They troll sites looking for human suffering, in this case layoffs. They then set to expand that pain hoping to make themselves feel potent. They side with the powerful institutions inflicting that pain as if they were part of it and are powerful too. They try to justify their mental illness as just being practical and “smart.” You will never find them celebrating smart corporate gestures that make people happy.

    Bob, this Bud’s for you.

  7. Lesson: If you work in a corporate job… are expendable. Always keep this in mind with all things you do. You want something permanent….build your own business.

  8. Craft Beers are too tedious for someone like InBev. To the consumer, craft beers are like eating a steak every night. What is an occasional treat to consumers isn’t on their daily menu if you catch my drift. To the retailer, it’s like selling iced tea, 95% just want a cold iced tea and 5% want an apricot iced tea, it’s almost an annoyance for the retailer to take up the space. The only market is a chain of breweries that sell many of them. The 5 lines with the highest sales should be introduced to retailers.

    • Sorry, but that misses the mark entirely for most of those who prefer well crafted brew. We’re not just going to craft brewers for the “occasional treat,” and surely aren’t resorting back to Bud Light as our go-to on all other occasions. Rather, we are consuming craft beer, regularly.

  9. Well if they sold that Aruba Red beer in the stores. They might could make more money! Because that is the best beer I’ve ever tasted. And 1 full glass will give you a NICE buzz.

  10. You have missed the point !
    AB ceased being an American brewery when they SOLD OUT to InBev. In the same way that Jim Bean SOLD OUT to Japan. Neither is allowed on my property. Much like my ban on anything with Hanoi Jane. There are other beers, other Bourbons and loads of replacements for Jane.

  11. AB also fired 300 Trade Activation Managers today. We got email at 11:50am that we have urgent call in 10 minutes and then proceeded to fire all 300 Tam positions nationwide.

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