Blog: UK meat firms, Metro wield job axe
Dean Best | 26 January 2009
Job cuts were firmly on the menu last week as a raft of firms announced how they were looking to react to the economic downturn.
In the UK, as the downturn officially became a recession, the meat industry bore the brunt of the latest cuts. Vion, the Dutch-owned food group, confirmed that around 820 jobs would go from its UK operations, partly due to the loss of a deli contract with Marks and Spencer.
The losses at Vion came just days after Danish Crown, Europe's largest meat processor, said it would close two sites in the UK, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Elsewhere in the UK, Sainsbury's, which earlier this month said it would create thousands of jobs as it rolls its convenience store business, said it would nevertheless make some cuts at its head office.
And while US retailer Food Lion said it too would trim some positions at its HQ, it was news of a company-wide restructuring process at Metro Group, the world's fourth-largest food retailer, that grabbed the headlines. The German giant told just-food that some 15,000 jobs would go over the next three years as part of its 'Shape 2012' programme, which aims to boost profits by EUR1.5bn.
Metro wants to streamline its organisation and give greater autonomy to its regional divisions. The programme is the latest move from CEO Eckhard Cordes to revitalise a global business that has faced fierce rivalry at home and is seeing growing competition from the likes of Wal-Mart overseas.
Cordes, a veteran of the automotive industry, has sold off Metro's Extra supermarkets in Germany and now he is sure to be hoping the company-wide revamp will get the retailer back firing on all cylinders.
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