Heinz layoffs affect 600 workers in US, Canada

Heinz layoffs announced in wake of review of operations. Heinz layoffs represent nearly a tenth of the food company's North American workforce.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File
Traders work at the post that trades H.J. Heinz Co. on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in February. The world's largest ketchupmaker said on Tuesday it plans to eliminate 600 jobs across North America. The Heinz layoffs follow the $28 billion sale of the company to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc and private equity firm 3G Capital earlier this year.

Food company H.J. Heinz Co. is eliminating 600 jobs across the U.S. and in Canada, including 350 in Pittsburgh, nearly a third of its operation there, it said Tuesday.

The company was sold in June and the layoffs were the result of a review of operations, spokesman Michael Mullen said. They're intended to enable faster decision-making, increased accountability and accelerated growth, he said.

Mullen said that as part of the transition to a private company, the Heinz leadership "examined every piece of our business to better position Heinz in a very competitive global market" and that review "resulted in a number of difficult but necessary organizational changes."

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital bought the company in a $23.3 billion deal. Bernardo Hees was named Heinz's new CEO. He took over from William Johnson, who received a golden parachute of $56 million, in addition to $156.7 million in vested stock and deferred compensation he accrued over his career.

Heinz is offering severance packages and outplacement services to people who lost jobs, Mullen said.

"We regret the impact this has on Heinz employees and their families," Mullen said.

Mullen said Heinz will remain headquartered in Pittsburgh, where it was founded in 1869. He said that after the reduction the company will employ about 800 people in the Pittsburgh region and 6,000 across North America.

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