An FMCG manufacturer headquartered in Europe is undertaking a restructuring project, with one of the phases having a direct impact on a local production facility. The plant has to be closed, but the customer/retail brand remains in the local market. The transition is to be communicated internally and externally in a transparent, fair and responsive manner, in line with the company's values, almost six months before production discontinues. The preparation and implementation of a possible crisis communication - if required - is also part of the project scope.
After assessing the situation, a strategic approach is discussed with and approved by the relevant SEE and local management. The tight schedule and high leakage risk are among the challenges we had to take into account and deal with appropriately. Working closely with the SEE and the teams on site, we were able to develop a package of 42 different communication elements covering four distinctive scenarios. Training was provided for the core team members on public disclosure, hostile interviews and crisis communication. A plan was developed for transformative communications during the 5-and-a-half-month transition period, covering administrative and logistical issues, legal aspects, comprehensive guidance and training support for staff.
The entire communication project went as originally planned. The key stakeholders received the fact-based information in full and on time, delivered by top management in an open and honest manner. A series of discussions were organised and information was regularly distributed throughout the transition period. All key stakeholders had the opportunity to provide feedback, ask questions or make suggestions from the beginning. The project was conducted at the issue management level without escalating to a crisis communication. The focus of communication remained at the local level, without external or internal escalation in the cluster countries or at the headquarters level. The client's brand and the group's reputation were preserved despite the challenges of the transition.