Dairy giant Arla Foods is planning to cut 600 jobs over the next three financial years. The job losses will largely be contained within the group's administrative departments.
The decision marks the final stage of the merger between Swedish group Arla and Danish-based MD Foods, which was initiated two years ago to create Arla Foods.
Since April 2000, the merger process has proceeded on schedule. The first step in the process was the development of an organisation plan.
This was then followed by the preparation and implementation of a strategy plan, and the final presentation of a structural plan in June 2001.
The Arla group has now initiated the fifth and final phase of the merger process. This aims to simplify the group's business systems.
A crucial component of the final phase is the so-called Ett Arla project. This aims to achieve harmony through the introduction of new management systems.
"The work has given us a much broader insight into joint business operations and enables us to begin to simplify the administrative functions across the board," said Arla Foods managing director Jens Bigum.
"The co-ordination of the two companies was a huge task, which has weighed heavily on many of our staff.
"The cut-back in employment levels should not be seen as a result of surplus resources within the business but solely as a consequence of a desire to achieve greater cost efficiency."
The first cut backs will be implemented in the 2003/04 financial year and will affect 200 jobs across a number of divisions.