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McCormick & Co. retirement offer affects mainly Baltimore area

Alan Wilson, CEO of McCormick, speaks Wednesday. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

Alan D. Wilson, chairman and CEO of McCormick, speaks Wednesday. (The Daily Record / Adam Bednar)

Because much of McCormick & Co.’s workforce is located in the Baltimore area the majority of voluntary retirement offers the company extended to employees were taken by workers in this region, the company disclosed Wednesday.

Following Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting in Cockeysville,  Alan D. Wilson, chairman and CEO of the Sparks-based spice maker, said the company hasn’t announced the total amount of people who accepted the retirements, but said it was about 5 percent of its U.S. workforce. He said the amount of workers who participated were skewed toward the area because two-thirds of its U.S. employees are based in the region.

Wilson said McCormick has about 10,000 employees worldwide. A company spokesman said there are about 3,500 U.S. workers.

It was announced last month that some employees, who met unspecified criteria, would be offered  the opportunity to retire with “enhanced benefits.” Those offers are no longer being extended.  Wilso said the retirement offers were generally sent to employees in office and support-staff functions, such as sales, finance and marketing. Employees on the manufacturing or distribution end of the business were not affected.

Other than those two sectors, Wilson said, “It’s pretty well across the board.”

In an earnings call on Jan. 28 McCormick announced plans to reduce costs and create savings of $25 million through its North American effectiveness initiative. Last year the company saved $65 million in its Comprehensive Continuous Improvement program. The company has set a goal of $85 million in savings for this year.

Wilson also reiterated that the company isn’t close on making a decision regarding the relocation of its headquarters. He said that his company is making progress, but that it was still early in the process. During last year’s shareholder meeting, McCormick announced that it was looking for a new location for its headquarters because its administrative operations were now scattered and they were hoping to consolidate those offices.

The company has pared down its options from a much larger list of possibilities, but Wilson declined to characterize how many options were still under consideration. Since the company announced it was looking to relocate its headquarters, leaders in the state and Baltimore County have been concerned the company could relocate to southern Pennsylvania.

“We’re in the investigation phase, we’re still working it, and when we’re ready to talk about it we will,” Wilson said.

During the shareholder meeting, Wilson laid out plans for the coming year to help grow the company’s business. The company intends to continue making inroads in foreign markets, while trying to revive growth in the U.S. by providing spices that cater to the country’s growing fascination with ethnic food, selling to a more health-conscious and cooking-friendly Millennial generation while also putting a greater emphasis on digital marketing.

McCormick’s board approved  a quarterly dividend of $0.40 per share on its common stocks, payable April 20, 2015, to shareholders of record on April 6, 2015. This is the 91st year of consecutive dividend payments, the company said.

The board also authorized a new share repurchase program under which McCormick is authorized to purchase $600 million of its outstanding shares. In 2015, the company expects to complete the current $400 million share repurchase program, which was authorized in April 2013.

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.