Coke to cut 1,800 jobs including 500 in Atlanta

Coca-Cola said Thursday it will eliminate 1,600 to 1,800 jobs around the globe — including about 500 in Atlanta — as part of a major reorganization over the coming months aimed at saving billions of dollars during the next five years.

The beverage giant said employees were beginning to be notified today about the upcoming layoffs, though the restructuring of the company has not been finalized.

Coke employs about 130,600 people around the world, including a group of about 13,000 corporate employees who are primarily located in Atlanta.

“We do not take decisions about job impacts lightly,” the company said in a statement. “We have committed that we will ensure fair, equitable and compassionate treatment of our people throughout this process.”

The layoffs have been expected. After reporting continued sluggish soda sales in the third quarter — especially in the North America, Coke’s most lucrative market — the company announced it would eliminate jobs to operate more efficiently and address Wall Street concerns.

The number losing their jobs would be the largest since 2000 when Coca-Cola laid off as many as 5,200 workers — 2,000 of them in metro Atlanta. The 2000 restructuring, however, created new jobs at the company and many employees returned to work when the company started hiring six months later.

Company insiders said the upcoming restructuring also would create new jobs for which employees whose jobs are being eliminated may apply.