Up to 150 people will lose their jobs at Kerry Group over the next year as the company consolidates its shared services division at facilities in Mexico and Malaysia.

In a statement, Kerry Group said the creation of a larger and consolidated shared services division will enable the company to build specialist teams who can scale in size and deliver a more efficient and consistent service globally.

The group said it 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. 

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

Kerry Group is also undertaking a strategic review of its dairy business in Ireland and the UK, which may lead to a transaction in the coming months. 

The review would consider dairy production and consumer food assets with an annual revenue of around €900m, Kerry's chief executive Edmond Scanlon said. 

The business has activities across both Kerry's Taste & Nutrition and Consumer Foods divisions.

"We're taking a stand back and doing a strategic review. Evaluating several options. One of those options could lead to a transaction but may not lead to a transaction," Mr Scanlon said.

He added that the process could take several months and may not conclude until the second half of the year.

"Further communication will be made in due course as appropriate," the company added.

The Kerry CEO declined to comment on the number of possible parties that might be interested in the assets or on their likely valuation. 

Goodbody Stockbrokers recently estimated the assets might be worth around €800m.

They pointed to Kerry co-op, whose shareholders include farmers that sell milk to Kerry, as the most likely purchaser of a stake in the new business. 

Kerry's core taste and nutrition business, which focuses on food ingredients, accounts for around 90% of groups profits and 80% of sales, with the rest from consumer foods.

Edmond Scanlon also denied that the company was looking to get out of consumer foods altogether, pointing to growth in plant-based meat alternatives and growth of consumer food sales volumes of 8.8% in the last quarter of the year.

Earlier, Kerry Group reported an 11.7% decrease in group trading profit for the year to the end of December, while revenues for the year dipped by 4% on the back of the impact of Covid-19.

Kerry Group said its trading profit fell to €797.2m from €902.7m in 2019, while group revenue for the year fell to €7 billion from €7.2 billion the previous year.

The company has declared a final dividend per share of 60.6 cent, which brings the total 2020 dividend to 86.5 cent - up over 10%.

Kerry said its foodservice business was most impacted by the coronavirus in the second quarter of 2020, as many of its customers were closed for extended periods.

But it added that its performance significantly improved during the year as the company adapted its offerings to cater for the changing marketplace.

CEO Edmond Scanlon said that 2020 was a "truly unique year", with the daily lives of people across the world profoundly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Mr Scanlon said the company made very good progress on a number of strategic fronts during the year. 

"We commenced the strategic development of our Georgia, US facility, which will have world-leading capabilities. We launched our 2030 sustainability strategy - Beyond the Horizon, which details Kerry's sustainability targets and will be central to our growth strategy, as we continue to innovate with our customers and expand our reach of sustainable nutrition solutions," he stated. 

The company also completed a number of key acquisitions aligned to its strategic growth priorities in the year, and announced its intention to acquire Spanish listed Biosearch Life yesterday. 

"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", Mr Scanlon added.

Kerry Group said its Taste & Nutrition division reported revenue was €5.8 billion, a reported decrease of 4.4%, mainly due to lower volumes and adverse translation currency, which were partially offset by contribution from business acquisitions. 

The division had started the year strongly before the global spread of Covid-19 and while its performance was most impacted in the second quarter of 2020, business volumes recovered well since then and returned to growth in the fourth quarter. 

"We saw a significant change in the nature of innovation through the year, as product ideation, collaboration and co-creation was adapted to cater for virtual engagement through this period." the company said. 

"Kerry's nutrition and wellness technology portfolio had a very good performance within the retail channel through customised solutions incorporating our broad protein portfolio, fermented ingredients, probiotics and immunity enhancing technologies," it added.

Kerry's Consumer Foods division saw reported revenue of €1.3 billion, which it said reflected a reported decrease of 2.1%.

Lower volumes due to the previously reported ready meals contract exit and an adverse impact from translation currency were partially offset by increased pricing, it said.

The company said the market saw major variations in category performances through the year, as consumers' purchasing and consumption behaviours changed significantly as a result of the coronavirus. 

"Shopping habits became more functional and impulse purchases have reduced. At-home snacking increased, as out-of-home occasions have been curtailed by restrictions on movement," Kerry said. 

It also said that many retailers scaled back category product listings and their freshly prepared over-the-counter operations.

But large traditional retailers have benefited through the year, with increased average basket sizes and reduced promotional activity, while demand for online and delivery has increased dramatically, it added.

Kerry declined to give a profit forecast for 2021, but said it was expecting flat to positive volume growth in the taste and nutrition business in the first quarter. 

"There's momentum coming into the year, but there continues to be uncertainty," Mr Scanlon said.

Shares in the company were higher in Dublin trade today. 

Additional reporting by Glenda Sheridan