Heinz to close Leamington plant and two others by mid-2014
In an emotional news conference Thursday afternoon, Leamington mayor John Paterson told the media that Heinz will be closing their operation in the town.
The news conference was held shortly after workers were informed by Heinz of the decision to close the plant.
“Generations have grown up with ties to this company,” Paterson says.
The closure will affect 740 full-time employees. Seasonal employees, the farming community and suppliers will also be affected.
“We reached this decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options,” says Michael Mullen, Sr. vice president of corporate and government affairs for Heinz in a statement. “Heinz fully appreciates and regrets the impact our decision will have on employees and the communities in which these factories are located.”
Along with Leamington, Heinz has announced closures in Florence, SC. and Pocatello, ID. The decision will see an approximate total of 1.350 employees laid off. However, Mullen says investments will be made in other facilities. Mullen says the closures will happen in a staged process over the next six to eight months, with production shifting to other facilities.
“Heinz will continue to invest in improving capacity utilization and will add 470 employees across five existing factories in Ohio, Iowa, California and Canada,” says Mullen. “Once this consolidation is complete, Heinz will employ approximately 6,800 hourly and salaried workers at sites across Canada and the United States. “
The privately owned ketchup company was purchased earlier this year by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital.
It was announced last month that McDonald’s Corp. would be severing its relationship with Heinz after 40 years of business.
Heinz opened its door in Leamington over a century ago, quickly becoming the town’s biggest employer. Heinz pays the town approximately $1-million each year in property taxes.
Mullen says Heinz is committed to treating all employees with the utmost dignity and respect.
“Heinz plans to offer severance benefits, outplacement services and other support to help affected employees pursue new job opportunities, at the appropriate time,” says Mullen. “We appreciate the many contributions these employees have made to Heinz.”
“In all that time the Heinz Company has been a corporate citizen, to be mayor in this historic moment… it’s very difficult,” says Paterson.