Food company H.J. Heinz Co. is eliminating 600 office jobs across the U.S. and in Canada, including 350 in Pittsburgh, nearly a third of its operation there, it said Tuesday.
The company was sold in June and the layoffs were the result of a review of operations, spokesman Michael Mullen said.
They're intended to enable faster decision-making, increased accountability and accelerated growth, he said.
Heinz Canada notified the Leamington Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 1 that the company will no longer sponsor its annual Business Excellence Awards. That sponsorship was worth $1,000 CAN. The chamber's Sally McDonald said she was told it's the start of a new fiscal year for Heinz and "changes had to be made."
Heinz remains a sponsor for the Leamington Tomato Fest at $5,000 CAN.
Mullen said that as part of the transition to a private company, the Heinz leadership "examined every piece of our business to better position Heinz in a very competitive global market" and that review "resulted in a number of difficult but necessary organizational changes."
Heinz Canada spokesperson Joan Patterson said in a statement that the job cuts are part of its transition to a private company.
"Unfortunately this comprehensive process has resulted in the reduction of office positions in the U.S and Canada," Patterson said. "Out of respect for impacted employees, we intend to speak with each of them before making details available publically."
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital bought the company in a $23.3 billion (all figures U.S.) deal.
Bernardo Hees was named Heinz's new CEO. He took over from William Johnson, who received a golden parachute of $56 million, in addition to $156.7 million in vested stock and deferred compensation he accrued over his career.
Heinz is offering severance packages and outplacement services to people who lost jobs, Mullen said.
"We regret the impact this has on Heinz employees and their families," Mullen said.
Mullen said Heinz will remain headquartered in Pittsburgh, where it was founded in 1869. He said that after the reduction the company will employ about 800 people in the Pittsburgh region and 6,000 across North America.
It's not yet clear which Canadian operations will be affected.
Calls to Heinz Canada and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 456, which represents hourly employees in Leamington, Ont., were not immediately returned.
Heinz Canada head offices are located in North York.
Leamington Mayor John Paterson said he's been assured the cuts don't affected his town "at this time."