By Alan Gionet

(CBS4) – Declining beer sales have led Molson Coors Brewing Co. to announce some major changes to their operations. Molson Coors occupies three of the upper floors of Denver’s second tallest building at 1801 California, and they will be closing their main Denver offices and will make Chicago their North American operational headquarters. The large brewery in Golden will remain in operation, however.

The Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado

The Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado (credit: CBS)

Approximately 400 to 500 jobs will be eliminated with the move, which also includes closing offices in some other North American locations, particularly Montreal. CNN Business writer Paul R. La Monica described closing the Denver offices as stunning, “considering how synonymous Coors and Coors Light are with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.”

So far it’s not clear how many jobs in Colorado will be cut. But company offices in three floors of Denver’s second tallest building at 1801 California in Denver will be emptied. Approximately $150 million is expected to be saved with the moves overall. Molson Coors says it’s part of an effort to “simplify its structure.” The company will move from four business units:

– Miller Coors in the U.S.
– Molson Coors Canada
– Molson Coors Europe
– Molson Coors International

Down to two:

– North America
– Europe

Coors was started as Golden Brewery by German immigrant Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler in 1873 in Golden. A series of acquisitions and joint ventures that started in the early 2000s has led to change in company leadership away from the Coors family. There remain only two Coors names on Molson Coors’ current board; former CEO Peter H. Coors, and his son, Peter J. Coors.

A former company executive speaking on condition of anonymity, said the changes may be good for the Coors and Molson families who control much of the stock, but sad for many people. Compensation of executives, he said, is based on cost savings rather than growth.

While the beer market is saturated with brands and demand for beer is down, “Every category in America is competitive today,” he said.

“Yes the beer category is soft, but with the right ideas they could increase market share.”

Coors light beer in a glass

Coors Light (credit: CBS)

The company name will also change from Molson Coors Brewing Co. to Molson Coors Beverage Company as an effort to showcase the fact that they make more drinks than beer. Some of those products include wine in a can and hard coffee.

There are no plans announced for reductions in jobs at the brewery in Golden, but millions will be spent to make improvements.

“If they’re selling less beer, ultimately … that means automation, that means there will be less overtime, less jobs,” said the former executive.

Alan Gionet

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