Brown-Forman has let go of 25 employees, the majority at the firm’s Louisville headquarters, the company confirmed to Insider Louisville.
At the same time, it is seeking to add a dozen new jobs in regions outside the U.S. as it undergoes a major change in focus.
“The realignment resulted in more than 60 people changing jobs, more than a dozen new positions being created that will be filled within the next several weeks/months, and unfortunately, the elimination of 25 positions,” Brown-Forman spokesman Phil Lynch wrote in an email to IL.
He added that the company eliminated the positions in its marketing, finance, human resources and sales departments. Brown-Forman has 800 employees at its corporate headquarters in Louisville.
Lynch said the job cuts were spurred by a realignment of the firm’s American whiskey portfolio, which is doing well both domestically and abroad in an increasingly crowded market. The company leads the American whiskey category, he said, with its Jack Daniel’s family of brands, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. It’s also creating new teams to focus on more quickly growing other B-F brands, including El Jimador tequila, Southern Comfort, Finlandia vodka and Sonoma-Cutrer wine.
Lynch said the company informed all those whose jobs were eliminated last week, and all received severance packages. He added that “several” of those affected were eligible for retirement, while the rest were laid off. Lynch said the company is cutting positions in Louisville and replacing at least some of them abroad as the firm expands its global reach; 60 percent of the firm’s sales and more than half its workforce is outside the U.S.
Lynch added that Southern Comfort will receive more corporate attention, as it’s in the increasingly competitive whiskey/liqueur category. As a result, SoCo has seen volumes decline over the past several years.
Brown-Forman also reported its fiscal third-quarter net earnings today. It had net income of $186 million, which worked out to 87 cents a share, in line with Wall Street projections and up 5 percent year-over-year. Net sales for the quarter rose to $1.093 billion, up 1 percent year-over-year.
Brown-Forman also gave its outlook for fiscal year 2015; it projects 6-8 percent growth in net sales and 9-11 percent growth in operating income.
For the nine-month period that ended on Jan. 31, compared to the same period a year before, Brown-Forman saw net sales of its entire portfolio of brands rise 3 percent. The Jack Daniel’s family of brands saw net sales increase 5 percent year-over-year, with a 30 percent rise in sales of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. The Woodford Reserve family also saw net sales up 30 percent in that time.
On the downside, the Finlandia family saw net sales fall 13 percent, and sales of the Southern Comfort family were down 6 percent.