General Mills Inc. will slash another 700 to 800 jobs as part of a big cost-cutting effort, layoffs announced less than two weeks after the packaged-food giant posted a bleak fourth quarter and announced two plant closings.
Golden Valley-based General Mills, buffeted by weak sales, revealed the job cuts late Tuesday in a filing with federal securities regulators. The head count reduction will primarily be in the United States, the filing said. General Mills employs about 5,000 in the Twin Cities, mostly in white-collar positions.
General Mills spokeswoman Kirstie Foster said in an e-mail that the new cuts include “salaried positions in General Mills’ U.S. businesses, and the functions and groups that support those businesses.” She said the company did not yet know how jobs in Minnesota would affected.
The 700 to 800 job cuts will be completed by next spring and will lead to annual cost savings of $125 million to $150 million, the securities filing said. Tuesday’s moves include $40 million of the $140 million in cuts that General Mills has announced in recent months.
The company reiterated on Sept. 17 that it’s undertaking a “formal review” of its North American manufacturing operations and distribution network. A day later, General Mills announced the closing of a cereal plant in Lodi, Calif., and a yogurt factory in Methuen, Mass., respectively laying off 430 and 144 workers.
Such manufacturing and distribution cuts are part of “Project Century,” as General Mills has dubbed the initiative. The job reductions disclosed Tuesday are part of “Project Catalyst,” a restructuring plan “designed to increase organizational effectiveness and reduce overhead expense,” the company said in a federal securities filing.
Overhead can often cover such functions as accounting, marketing, legal affairs and other white-collar work.
General Mills last undertook a mass companywide layoff in 2012 when it axed about 850 mostly white-collar employees, about half of them in the Twin Cities.
General Mills employed 43,000 full-time and part-time employees as of May 25.
Many big packaged-food makers have been suffering from stagnant sales — and also cutting costs. The weak economy and relatively low consumer spending power has been a factor. But some analysts have put forth the idea that consumer tastes are changing, hurting processed food makers.
Last month, General Mills posted one of its weaker quarters in the past few years, its profits falling well short of Wall Street’s expectations.
General Mills is one of the nation’s two biggest cereal makers, yet that market is wobbly as consumers have more options at both the grocery store and quick-serve restaurants. Other General Mills U.S. businesses — its meals, baking goods and frozen food segments — all saw significant sales declines during its last full quarter.
And the company’s Yoplait yogurt division has been struggling the past few years.
Also late Tuesday, General Mills said that Mark Addicks, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, plans to retire in 2015 after 26 years with the company. Ann Simonds, the current president of General Mills’ Baking Products division, will succeed Addicks as chief marketing officer.