Beverage giant Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced that it will be laying off hundreds of corporate employees due to declining sales of its flagship beer, Bud Light. The job cuts will affect less than 2% of the company's U.S. workforce, which totals around 18,000 employees, with approximately 350 positions being eliminated. Anheuser-Busch stated that the layoffs will be spread across all corporate functions as part of an effort to simplify and streamline the organization.
It's important to note that the job cuts will not impact brewery and warehouse staff, drivers, or field salespeople. Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth emphasized that the changes are necessary to ensure the long-term success of the company and allow teams to focus on their core mission of brewing great beer.
The decline in Bud Light sales can be attributed to a conservative boycott sparked by the brand's partnership with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney during the March Madness tournament. The company faced backlash from both consumers and Mulvaney herself for not defending the collaboration. As a result, Anheuser-Busch's stock has dipped more than 2% this year, in contrast to the S&P 500's nearly 20% gain.
Furthermore, Bud Light lost its top spot in the U.S. beer market to Constellation Brands' Modelo. According to consulting firm Bump Williams, Bud Light held 7% market share for the four weeks ending July 1, compared to Modelo's 8.7%. The firm also reported a 28% drop in Bud Light sales for the week ending June 24 compared to the same period last year.
In addition to these challenges, Anheuser-Busch is currently under investigation by the State Board of Administration in Florida, led by Governor Ron DeSantis. The investigation aims to determine whether the company breached its shareholder duties with the Mulvaney partnership. This could potentially lead to a lawsuit on behalf of Florida's pension fund shareholders, as the state holds $53 million worth of stock in Anheuser-Busch.
Anheuser-Busch maintains that it takes its responsibilities to shareholders, employees, distributors, and customers seriously, and is focused on driving long-term, sustainable growth. The company remains committed to optimizing its business operations and providing consumers with enjoyable products for any occasion.
Overall, these developments highlight the challenges Anheuser-Busch InBev is facing in the current market, particularly in relation to Bud Light's declining sales and the controversies surrounding its business decisions.