General Mills to Cut Hundreds of Jobs, Part With U.S. Marketing Chief Amid Sales Slump

Company will eliminate 400-600 positions globally

Today General Mills announced a new worldwide organizational restructure that will cut approximately 400-600 jobs in an effort to "maximize global scale."

Among the positions eliminated are those of U.S. svp, CMO, Ann Simonds and international COO Christopher D. O'Leary.

According to a company spokesperson, Simonds recently announced her plans to resign after more than two decades with the General Mills organization. The company confirmed that it is currently conducting an external search to fill a new global chief marketing officer, marketing innovation leader role but declined to clarify whether it plans to hire a new head of marketing in the United States, which remains its biggest market.

"As we wrap up our 150th anniversary year, we are ready to take the next step in our journey to truly operate as a global company and fully resource our best ideas to drive growth," said chairman and CEO Ken Powell in a statement.

Earlier reports stated that the outgoing O'Leary would be replaced by president and COO Jeff Harmening, who will handle related responsibilities on a global scale moving forward. Starting on Jan. 1, 2017, General Mills will also launch separate business groups for the North America, Europe and Australia and Asia and Latin America regions, along with another group handling convenience stores and food service clients. The leaders of each division will report directly to the new COO.

"We continue to prioritize both growth and returns," said Harmening. "The structural changes announced today will help us unlock global growth opportunities and go after them by efficiently restructuring our teams and processes." He positioned the new structure as a savings move designed to help the company achieve a profit margin of 20 percent for 2018.

September reports saw General Mills' sales totals drop for the fifth consecutive quarter as its yogurt business took a 30 percent hit in the United States. As part of the new restructuring, the company plans to focus on the France-based Dairy SBU unit, which includes the brands Yoplait and Häagen-Dazs, in an attempt to "drive growth and innovation for the dairy platform globally."

This news comes less than a week after General Mills and Joanne Davis Consulting concluded a closed creative agency review that saw MDC Partners' 72andSunny and Redscout scoring U.S. agency of record duties, while unspecified project work went to Publicis multicultural agency The Community and boutique shops Joan and Erich & Kallman.