Kroger closes Columbus Bakery, lays off more than 400 employees

Kroger Columbus Bakery (WBNS-10TV)
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More than 400 Kroger employees lost their jobs Monday.

The news came without warning, during a morning staff meeting.

Kroger is shutting down production at its Columbus Bakery, effective immediately.

With the closure, 411 employees are out of a job.

"We didn't see it coming," said employee Renee Watson. "It was just like a hit in the stomach. It's just like we're all in shock."

Dawn Harris has worked at the Kroger Bakery for 19 years.

It all came to an end in less than 15 minutes.

"They just told us to go out in the hallway, line up and get our package, and we're done," she said. "A lot of girls was crying and things. I can understand - this is their job. this is their family."

Dawn says her husband is on disability, and she has a teenager to provide for, leaving her very concerned about what's next.

"If I was younger, it'd be easier for me to find another job. But now at my age, I don't know," she said through tears. "It's rough, very rough. I'll get through it...it's a big change. Big change. and I wasn't expecting this."

Kroger says employees will be paid for the next two months, per their Union contract.

They will then receive severance pay based on their length of employment.

Kroger issues the following statement:

Today, the Kroger Family of Companies announced the closure of our Columbus Bakery facility, effective immediately. We are in a highly competitive business environment that is driving our company to ensure all areas of our business are meeting their full potential. As a company, we must be able to adapt to the ever-changing retail environment and meet the needs of our customers.

After evaluation of the equipment and layout of the plant, it became clear that the outdated layout and age of the equipment were no longer sustainable for us to remain competitive. Production at the plant will cease immediately and the process of decommissioning its operations is expected to take 60 – 90 days.

The company will honor the terms outlined in the collective bargaining agreements meaning that all Columbus Bakery associates will be paid as they normally would for 60 days before receiving severance based on years of service as outlined in their collective bargaining agreements. Additional services through Lee Hecht Harrison will be offered to eligible associates to participate in career building workshops, and all associates are encouraged to consider available positions in other Kroger facilities and business units. The company values the contributions of the Columbus Bakery associates, and this closure is no reflection on their effort.

As a company, we continuously evaluate the efficiencies of our operations to ensure that every Kroger Manufacturing facility is meeting its full potential. At this time, there are no plans to close other facilities in our network.