The Kroger Co. suddenly shut the doors of a long-standing Columbus, Ohio, bakery, affecting the jobs of 411 workers.
A Kroger spokesperson cited an outdated layout of the plant and the age of the equipment as reasons for why the bakery was "no longer sustainable" to remain competitive.
"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," the spokesperson said, adding that the retailer must "adapt to the ever-changing retail environment."
The spokesperson said Kroger does not plan to close any other facilities at this time.
The closure of the bakery—which produced bread, doughnuts, crackers, tortilla chips and flavored popcorn, according to the Columbus Dispatch—appears sudden because seven factory jobs were still listed on the Kroger job board at the time of publication.
The company said it is planning to transfer the work lost from the plant to other Kroger production facilities and potential third-party sources that will "maintain the high-quality standards Kroger customers have come to expect" from its private brands.
The company said Columbus bakery associates would receive 60 days of normal pay followed by severance based on years of service, true to their collective bargaining agreements. Additionally, Kroger will offer services through Lee Hecht Harrison to provide career-building workshops and is encouraging those affected to consider positions at other Kroger facilities.
However, some employees are disenchanted by the facility's closure. Nine-year Columbus Bakery worker Joe Santry, for example, told the Columbus Dispatch that he is disappointed that Kroger is investing in initiatives such as its Scan, Bag, Go program but not its workers at the facility.
“It’s in pretty poor taste," he said. "A company that has its roots in Ohio is choosing not to reinvest in over 400 employees right here in Ohio. That hit home for me."
Additionally, Santry said the workers at the plant typically made more than $20 an hour, along with overtime and differentials for working overnight, which would be difficult to match at other Kroger facilities.