Molson Coors closing downtown Denver office after third-quarter loss of $402 million

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DENVER -- Molson Coors Brewing Co. is laying off 500 workers worldwide and restructuring its operations as it faces declining beer sales.

The company expects to save $150 million by closing offices in downtown Denver and elsewhere and simplifying its structure.

Currently, around 300 employees work on the 46th floor of a Denver skyscraper. All are impacted by the move by either being forced to relocate to Chicago or by having their position eliminated.

Its four business units -- U.S., Canada, Europe and International -- will be consolidated into North America and Europe, with other regions reporting to those two.

Chicago will be its North American headquarters. Support functions like finance and human resources that are scattered around the U.S. will now be based in Milwaukee.

"A difficult day, a lot of very difficult decisions," Adam Collins, a vice president with Molson Coors, told FOX31. "Colorado is always going to be a big part of our history and a big part of our heritage."

Collins said the beer industry has faced a number of challenges in recent years.

"We had a choice to make: do we continue down that path we are on or do we make some very difficult decisions?" Collins said.

Molson Coors says it will save approximately $150 million with the new structure.

It will use those savings to improve its digital marketing capabilities and introduce new products more quickly such as the canned wine and hard coffee it unveiled this year.

Molson Coors says it has been working on reducing the time it takes to bring new products to market from 18 months to as little as four months in the U.S.

Molson Coors is also continuing its previously announced plan to modernize its breweries and make them more flexible to meet consumer demand.

The company's brewery in Golden is the largest in the U.S., brewing up to 10 million barrels of beer each year.

Collins said nothing will change in terms of jobs at the Golden plant -- the iconic facility just west of Denver. Hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations are expected there in the years to come, according to Collins.

"We've brewed our beer here for 150 years and our plan is to continue brewing for 150 years to come," Collins said.

Colorado will continue to have more Molson Coors employees than any other state.

"Our business is at an inflection point," Molson Coors President and CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement.

"We can continue down the path we've been on for several years now, or we can make the significant and difficult changes necessary to get back on the right track."

Hattersley became president and CEO last month when CEO Mark Hunter retired.

Molson Coors is dropping "Brewing" from its name to emphasize that it makes more than beer. It will become Molson Coors Beverage Co. in January.

Beer sales were up 5% in Asia and Western Europe in 2018 and rose 6% in Eastern Europe, according to Euromonitor.

But they were flat in the U.S. as canned cocktails, hard seltzers and craft beers stole share from big brewers.

The company's beer brands include Miller, Molson, Coors, Blue Moon, Pilsner Urquell and Foster's. It also makes Henry's Hard Soda.

Overall Molson Coors reported a third-quarter loss of $402.8 million on Wednesday.

On a per-share basis, the company lost $1.86. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs and non-recurring costs, were $1.48 per share.

That exceeded Wall Street's expectations, according to Zacks Investment Research. But the company's adjusted revenue of $2.84 billion which fell short of analysts' forecasts.

Molson Coors' sales fell 3% to $8.1 billion in the first nine months of the year.

The company's shares slipped 3.6% to $52.71 in midday trading.

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