01 February 1999

US FOOD GIANT H J Heinz is to carry out a major restructuring of its global businesses, with the closure of seven of its 21 production units worldwide and the loss of 4,000 jobs. It is not yet known where the axe will fall but a factory in Harlesden, north-west London, is known to be at risk. As part of the retrenchment, code-named Operation Excel, Britain is to become the focal point of all Heinz’ European operations, generating aggregated annual revenues of $2.5 billion (£1.6bn). The beanz baron also plans to dispose of its Weight Watchers International business, while other cut-backs include the scrapping of twelve of the 24 European variants of Heinz’ tomato sauce bottles! William Johnson, Heinz’ ceo, aims to save $200m annually by transforming the company from a decentralised collection of ‘unaligned autonomous affiliates’ into one managed by six core global categories: ketchup and sauces; frozen foods; tuna; beans and pasta meals; infant foods; and petfoods.