June 16, 2015 / 7:14 PM / 4 years ago

Nestle cuts 15 percent of its Africa workforce: FT

The Nestle logo is pictured on a truck outside the company's headquarters before the nine-month sale figures news conference in Vevey October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

(Reuters) - Swiss food and drinks company Nestle SA NESN.VX is cutting 15 percent of its workforce in 21 African countries because it says it overestimated the rise of the middle class, the Financial Times reported.

"We thought this would be the next Asia, but we have realized the middle class here in the region is extremely small and it is not really growing,” Cornel Krummenacher, chief executive for Nestlé’s equatorial Africa region, told the Financial Times in an interview. (goo.gl/a55Wy8)

He also said Nestle would be lucky to reach annual 10 percent growth in Africa in future years, and with the cuts, the company hoped to break even next year.

Nestle Nigeria (NESTLE.LG) reported a 51 percent fall in pretax profit to 3.48 billion naira ($17.51 million) in the first quarter.

Reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bengaluru; editing by Susan Thomas

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