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General Mills: Job losses will be mostly in ‘administrative and support positions’

By Elaine Watson , 23-May-2012

General Mills: 'It’s been a tough year. We've had very, very high inflation across the industry, which led to unusually high levels of price increases, which led to volume elasticities and declines...'
General Mills: 'It’s been a tough year. We've had very, very high inflation across the industry, which led to unusually high levels of price increases, which led to volume elasticities and declines...'

Job cuts at General Mills will be mostly in “administrative and support positions”, said the firm, which has just unveiled plans to slash more than 2% of its global workforce.

A spokeswoman for the Cheerios cereal to Häagen-Dazs ice cream giant told FoodNavigator-USA that about half of the 850 positions to go were in Minneapolis, where General Mills has its corporate HQ, with the rest spread across its global business.

‘A particularly challenging operating environment’ in fiscal 2012

Asked when the job cuts - part of a broader ‘productivity and cost savings’ plan - would be implemented, she added: “The key organizational structure decisions have been made”.

However, the timing of the job cuts would vary, with the restructuring process set to complete by the end of fiscal 2014, she said.

“In addition to severance [packages] there will be resources available to help employees transition”

Powell: It’s been a tough year

Asked by an analyst during the firm’s third quarter earnings call whether General Mills planned to reduce its headcount, chief executive Ken Powell said: “We're very focused on admin expense, particularly in the US… [However] on a like-for-like basis, that has grown at less than the rate of sales the last three or four years, and the last two years it's been flat. So we're very, very diligent on all of that stuff…”

Chief financial officer Don Mulligan added: “In terms of headcount, it’s increased because we've been building our international business. [But] our US headcount actually over the last three years is essentially flat.”

However, low consumer confidence and high commodity inflation was making fiscal 2012 “particularly challenging”, said Powell.

“It’s been a tough year. We've had very, very high inflation across the industry, which led to unusually high levels of price increases, which led to volume elasticities and declines that we've seen.”

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