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September 17, 2006

Labatt Misses The Belgians

According to an article in this past Friday's Globe & Mail, things have not been going smoothly at Labatt since the 2004 merger of Belgian parent company Interbrew and Brazil's AmBev, forming new parent company InBev. The change in ownership structure has seen many Brazilian imports taking over upper management jobs in Canada, and other changes have been made as well, all leading to low morale throughout the company:

One of (AmBev's) first moves was to close the company's Toronto brewery and to sack 20 per cent of Labatt's white-collar workers. Those things might have happened anyway, given the profit pressure from the discount brewers. But local autonomy was also weakened. “There's a much stronger drive to central decision making, central authority,” said the ex-InBev insider.

A few back-office roles have been moved outright to Brazil. Labatt's innovation group — an experimental brewery in London, Ont., where the company tinkered with formulas and packaging and which was responsible for new products like ice beer — has been downsized, with its functions now performed in Belgium. But most of the senior executive jobs that Labatt offered in 1995 still exist in Toronto. “It isn't, strictly speaking, that they've taken away the chairs, as much as it is who's in the chairs and where the decisions are being made,” said the InBev insider. “Every time one of those key roles changes, they're filling it with a Brazilian.”

Posted by Bar Towel News Editor at September 17, 2006 08:52 AM