Heinz to close Florence facility employing 200 workers

Published: Nov. 14, 2013 at 8:35 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2013 at 1:54 AM EST
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FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Representatives with Heinz confirmed that the manufacturing facility in Florence that employs 200 people will be closed.

"After an extensive review of our Company's North American supply chain footprint, capabilities, and capacity utilization, Heinz is announcing the closure of three manufacturing facilities in North America, including Florence, SC (200 employees); Pocatello, ID (410 employees); and, Leamington, ON in Canada (740 employees)," stated Michael Mullen, Heinz's Senior Vice President of Corporate & Government Affairs. "In a staged process over the next six to eight months, production in these locations will shift to other existing factories in the US and Canada."

"Our decision to consolidate manufacturing across North America is a critical step in our plan to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible to become more competitive in a challenging environment, and to accelerate the Company's future growth," Mullen's official statement reads.

"Heinz plans to offer severance benefits, outplacement services and other support to help affected employees pursue new job opportunities, at the appropriate time," Mullen continued. "We appreciate the many contributions these employees have made to Heinz, and we are committed to treating all employees with the utmost respect and dignity."

County officials are disappointed the plant is closing, but optimistic a new food manufacturer will fill this space shortly after Heinz is gone.

"Of course it's a disappointment it was a big name that everybody knew," said Katie Wilcox.

Wilcox is the spokesperson for the Florence County Economic Development Partnership.

Wilcox said the county learned about Heinz's decision to close its Florence County location yesterday.

"Heinz we met with them yesterday and they are consolidating their frozen food facilities into one location," said Wilcox.

This means hundreds of workers at the plant will be laid off.

"A little over two-hundred jobs will be lost over the course of the next four to eight months," said Wilcox.

In a statement Heinz said facilities in Canada and Idaho are closing in addition to the Florence location. In total that's a loss of 1,300 jobs.

"But we are always recruiting industry in this office and actually food processing is one of our target industries," said Wilcox

Wilcox says the building Heinz currently occupies is fairly new and will be attractive to any food manufacture looking to move to Florence.

"Heinz is a great grade A class of food that will hopefully be a fit for a new food company,"said Wilcox.

Yesterday at a meeting in Columbia, Heinz officials said the closing of this plant was made in the best interest of the company, and should not reflect poorly on Florence County.

All the people losing their jobs will get severance benefits and assistance with finding new jobs.

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