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Bread Store no more

South Boston News
Mildred Pugh of Chase City with Merita dinner rolls, among the items flying off the shelves Saturday.
SoVaNow.com / November 19, 2012
Once the last truckload of buns, sandwich bread and Twinkees is snapped up, the Merita Bakery Thrift Store will be no more.

Merita, a subsidiary of Hostess Brands, is pulling the plug on its Hamilton Boulevard store as part of a company-wide liquidation announced Friday. The South Boston location —known by many as the Bread Store — slashed prices by 50 percent on all inventory Saturday, prompting a run by customers, some of whom waited in a line spilling out into the parking lot at the peak of business.

Many of the customers who stocked up up on loaves of bread, Hostess cakes and two-liter soda bottles — all priced under a dollar — expressed surprise and dismay when informed of the reason for the inventory-clearing sale. Employees declined to speak on the record, although one said the store would receive one more shipment of bread before it closes for good sometime this week. On Saturday, the Bread Store was slated to stay open until 5 o’clock — provided the shelves weren’t stripped bare by then.

Inside the Bread Store, Ruby Crowder and Mildred Pugh of Chase City lamented the loss of one of their favorite places to shop. They make regular visits to South Boston to buy low-cost bread and other items, from mustard bottles to bags of chips to cream-filled pies.

Pugh purchases hamburger and hot dog buns, as well as other treats, for a food vendor who works events such as the Chase City Christmas Parade and the Boydton Day festival. She left town Saturday wondering where she would find another supplier willing to sell bread so cheaply.

“I didn’t know the store was closing,” she said.

Merita is one of several product lines of Hostess Brands, which announced its liquidation Friday in response to a strike called by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) on Nov. 9. The Merita website, meritabrands.com, has been updated with a statement by Hostess Brands on the company-wide liquidation, which will cost 18,500 jobs. The statement says Hostess Brands retail stores, including the South Boston store, “will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products.”

Hostess is blaming the Bakers union for the shutdown. Chief Executive Officer Gregory F. Rayburn said Hostess “deeply regret[s] the necessity” of the liquidation decision, “but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike.”

The company said the liquidation will eliminate 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, some 5,500 delivery routes and 570 outlet stores throughout the U.S. It said it attempted to stave off the closing with an offer to the union that would allow it to raise outside financing and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Bakers union called a strike after rejecting the company’s demands for wage and benefit cuts that Hostess said were essential to its continued survival. Hostess said it is unprofitable under its current cost structure, which it blamed largely on the union. In the statement, Hostess said the Bakers’ union rejected an offer to give 12 unions a 25 percent ownership stake in the company, representation on its Board of Directors and $100 million in reorganized Hostess Brands’ debt.

The company will sell off its brands, which include such famed products as Twinkees, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s and Home Pride bread.

The Bakers’ union struck back at the company’s claims, saying Hostess wanted 8 percent wage cuts immediately and wage and benefit cuts of up to 32 percent over time. Hostess also stopped making contractually required contributions to workers’ pensions in July 2011, cut health benefits and ended the eight-hour workday for employees, the union charged.

““Our members decided they were not going to take any more abuse from a company they have given so much to for so many years,” said Bakers union International President Frank Hurt. “They decided that they were not going to agree to another round of outrageous wage and benefit cuts and give up their pension only to see yet another management team fail and Wall Street vulture capitalists and ‘restructuring specialists’ walk away with untold millions of dollars.”

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I am sorry to loose jobs, but thats is what the dems and liberals are going to get with there job killing policies. Now how do you feel about that vote for nobams?

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AP2, look closer and you may find that the hedge fund that owned and mismanaged Hostess may be as much or more to blame as the union. Hostess CEO got a 300% salary increase ($750K to $2,250,000) last year, even as the company was circling the drain. That sounds like complete fiduciary mismanagement to me esp since the whole works imploded anyway. For that kind of pay increase, somebody had better d__n well produce some positive and impressive results- and he didn't. Can almost guarantee he got a nice golden parachute out of it too.

Executive (over)compensation figures big in a whole lot of corporate financial woes.

Comments

Yes. Elections do have consequences. More work hour reductions and layoffs to come. It's gonna get bad.
I agree the CEO is overpaid but now we ( the taxpayer) are expected to pay the workers unemployment compensation.
Double edged sword !


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