Multinational conglomerate and symbol of macro brewing AB InBev laid off 380 members of its High End division late last week. While employees from other divisions were also let go, the majority of layoffs centered around the sales team for the beer giant’s High End portfolio.
The High End is the arm of the AB InBev company that handles and manages over craft brewery acquisitions. While a spokeseprson for The High End said in a statement that the layoffs only impact 2% of AB InBev’s 18,000 North American employees, the layoffs resulted in nearly 90% of The High End’s nationwide sales force being given the boot.
Mike Seabaugh, a sales rep for AB InBev’s High End portfolio, noted the redundancies in the company’s corporate sales structure. “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. Prior to the layoffs, AB InBev had sales reps with duplicate regional areas – one for Budweiser’s core line of beers, and one for The High End beers.
In an interview with Good Beer Hunting, a spokesperson for AB InBev discussed how the company’s acquisitions of craft beer brands created an unsustainable sales structure for the company. “With today’s changes, we’re going to simplify that structure and go back to what we used to have: One point of contact for the full portfolio of brands,” the spokesperson told Good Beer Hunting. “So the wholesalers will have one person who will be their point of contact for both core and the High End, that’s what will lead to some job losses in the High End.”
The High End portfolio includes former craft brewing favorites Breckenridge Brewing Company, Goose Island Brewing Company, Wicked Weed Brewing Company, and Golden Road Brewing company, among others. According to Beer Street Journal, who reported on these layoffs first, none of the employees who report directly to The High End breweries were affected in the layoffs.