As many as 150 jobs are at risk in Kerry Group’s Irish operations as the firm announces plans to move a major part of its business to Mexico and Malaysia.

In a statement issued to AgriLand, a spokesman for Kerry said it had been “necessary to make organisational changes to reflect the evolution” of the group.

It explained the new “shared services” division, which will primarily be located in Mexico and Malaysia, will include finance, human resources and regulatory staff.

“With 150 sites across the world, the company is making a number of changes to ensure that it remains close to its growth markets while also simplifying the way that it operates,” it read.

“Today, Kerry has announced that it is to expand and centralise its shared services function, with teams primarily located in two new locations.

As a result, it is anticipated that up to 150 people who are currently based in Ireland will be made redundant over the next six to 12 months.

“The creation of a larger and consolidated shared services division will enable the company to build specialist teams who can scale in size and therefore deliver a more efficient and consistent service globally.”

“Kerry will work closely with its employees and representative groups to support everyone over the coming period, providing severance packages and outplacement services including training, interview skills and coaching,” it added.

“The company will also work with industry partners across the region to identify future employment opportunities.”

The news comes just hours after the group announced trading profits had fallen by €105.5 million in 2020 – a slump of 11.7% compared to the €902.7 million made the year before.

Bosses put the reduction in profits down to Covid-19, saying the pandemic had caused a reduction in volumes.

The report explained that the group was in the process of conducting a “strategic review” of its dairy-related businesses in Ireland and the UK.

“This business has activities across both Taste & Nutrition and Consumer Foods businesses. We note that there is no certainty that this review will lead to a transaction. Further communication will be made in due course as appropriate,” it read.

€4.4 million restructure programme

The report showed €4.4 million had been spent so far on the programme, which aims to “evolve and restructure” its global business services model to “better enable the business and support further growth”.

The accounts published today also revealed that during the last year, the group disposed of property, plant and equipment in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa for €2.4 million, resulting in a loss of €1.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2020.

In 2019, the group disposed of property, plant and equipment primarily in the UK, US and Australia for €32.8m resulting in a loss of €3.5 million.

Responding to the figures, Kerry Group chief executive Edmund Scanlon said: “This has been a truly unique year, with the daily lives of people across the world profoundly impacted by the Covid‐19 pandemic.

Sustained strong growth was achieved in the retail channel… Performance in our foodservice channel was most significantly impacted in the second quarter, as the introduction of restrictions affected our customers’ operations.

Scanlon also noted that the business commenced the “strategic development” of its facility in the US state of Georgia.

“While uncertainty from Covid-19 continues to impact our customers, consumers and industry, we will continue to co-create with our customers to meet accelerating consumer demands, and look forward to a year of strong recovery and good growth,” he added.