Stone Brewing Co. announced Oct. 13 that it is cutting approximately 5 percent of its workforce — laying off about 60 of its 1,200 employees — as it adjusts to rising competitive pressures in the beer industry.
Officials of the Escondido-headquartered company, the largest of more than 100 craft beer makers based in San Diego County and the 10th largest in the nation, said in a statement that affected workers were offered “a substantial notice period” and career transition services.
“Due to an unforeseen slowdown in our consistent growth and changes in the craft beer landscape, we have had to make the difficult decision to restructure our staff,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, this comes despite a year that includes the incredible accomplishments of opening two new breweries, which are ultimately expanding the availability of Stone beers and boosting the reputation of American craft beer in Europe.”
The local job cuts come as Stone Brewing is in the process of shifting large portions of its production and distribution to newly opened brewing facilities in Richmond, Va., and Berlin, Germany.
Company officials said the independent craft segment of the beer industry has been under “tremendous pressures,” from players including hundreds of other craft makers as well as global macrobrewers such as Anheuser-Busch InBev. The larger players have recently made several acquisitions of craft beer companies.
Stone officials said the company and the craft segment in general have recently seen a decline in domestic growth, forcing Stone to restructure in order to compete effectively and preserve its independence. Officials said no additional layoffs are expected within the foreseeable future.
The job cuts are the latest news in what has been an eventful year for the 20-year-old brewing company. Dominic Engels recently began his job as Stone’s new chief executive officer, as longtime CEO and co-founder Greg Koch moved into a previously announced role as executive chairman.
In addition to the Virginia and Berlin production facilities, which will soon be opening on-site restaurants, Stone has other upcoming venues in the works, including a taproom in Napa and a new hotel adjacent to its flagship facilities in Escondido.
Stone Brewing in 2015 produced more than 325,000 barrels — up 13.4 percent from the prior year — as net revenue topped $217 million.