The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

ATLANTA — Coca-Cola said Tuesday it will be eliminating 1,200 corporate jobs later this year as part of an expanded cost-cutting program.

Coca-Cola President James Quincey, who is set to take over as chief executive of the Atlanta company on May 1, announced the job cuts during the company's first-quarter earnings call with investors.

No specifics were immediately available on how many jobs might be cut at Coca-Cola's headquarters, but a company spokesman said the number would be "significant."

"We expect to see changes throughout our corporate organization, including Atlanta and elsewhere, as we fundamentally change the way we work to be faster, more agile and more efficient," said Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers. "While we don't yet know the exact impact in Atlanta, we expect it will be a significant percentage of the total."

The company has about 7,500 employees in metro Atlanta and 9,000 in Georgia, including both bottling operations and its corporate headquarters.

Landers said the job cuts would come from a pool of about 5,500 corporate employees who work in or report to the company's headquarters.

"While these necessary changes are always very difficult, they will help us do fewer things better to lead and support our operating units," said Quincey, who is replacing long-time CEO Muhtar Kent.

The cost-cutting effort will result in a "more focused, lean corporate center," he said.

Quincey said the job cuts will begin in the second half of this year and extend into 2018. He said the reductions are part of the company's efforts to save about $800 million by 2019 through job cuts, reduced marketing spending and restructuring some of its operations.

Tuesday's announcement represents an expansion of Coca-Cola's long-running cost-cutting campaign in response to slumping sales of sodas, the company's largest product category. Customers have been turning to other drinks and avoiding sugary sodas partly due to concerns about the risk of obesity and diabetes.

In 2015, Coca-Cola announced plans to cut costs by $3 billion by 2019. Including the new efforts, Quincey said that cost-cutting target now goes to $3.8 billion.

Coca-Cola has 100,300 employees worldwide, including 57,300 in North America.

The last time Coca-Cola announced big job reductions was in early 2015, when the company said it would cut up to 1,800 jobs, including about 500 at its Atlanta headquarters. The company had about 8,900 people at its Atlanta office at the time and 130,600 around the world.

Tuesday, Coca-Cola reported big drops in both revenue and profits in the first quarter, mostly due to its ongoing efforts to retool its bottling and other operations.

Coca-Cola's revenue declined 11 percent in the first quarter, to $9.1 billion from $10.3 billion a year earlier.

First-quarter profit declined 21 percent, to almost $1.18 billion from $1.48 billion a year earlier.

Tuesday's financial report mostly showed flat or slightly higher financial results when the effect of the restructuring efforts was removed, the company said.