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.
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."
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital bought the company in a $23.3 billion 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.
City Councilman William Peduto issued the following statement this afternoon in response to Heinz’s job elimination announcement.
“I am disheartened to learn that the new owners of the H.J. Heinz Co. plan to eliminate 600 jobs, including 350 here in Pittsburgh. Heinz is a Pittsburgh institution and is recognized internationally as such. Heinz has a long and storied history in Pittsburgh and I will be reaching out directly to the new ownership group to guarantee that it is a part of our future."
Duquesne University Economist Audrey Guskey called the Heinz layoffs troubling.
“You've got hundreds of people being laid off at a major corporation that’s really the icon of Pittsburgh. As a result, it sends a bad signal to the economy and to the country,” Guskey said.