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      Heinz to close Florence plant putting 200 people out of work

      Pittsburgh-based HJ Heinz Company plans to shutdown its frozen foods plant in Florence within the next eight months , sending 200 of its employees to the unemployment line.

      Heinz operated out of 225,000 square foot facility in the Pee Dee Electric Cooperative Touchstone Energy Commerce City.

      It broke ground in September 2008, but didn't fully open until 2011 because of setbacks in the economy.

      The company is closing plants in Canada and Idaho as well to consolidate manufacturing.

      Heinz released this statement on the closings.

      "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). In a staged process over the next six to eight months, production in these locations will shift to other existing factories in the U.S. 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.

      We have reached the difficult but necessary decision to reduce the size of our North American factory-based employee population by approximately 1,350 positions across the U.S. and Canada in order to consolidate manufacturing and eliminate excess capacity. At the same time, Heinz will continue to invest in improving capacity utilization and will add 470 employees across five existing factories in Ohio, Iowa, California and Canada. Once this consolidation is complete, Heinz will employ approximately 6,800 hourly and salaried workers at sites across Canada and the United States.

      Heinz plans to offer severance benefits, outplacement services and other support to help affected employees pursue new job opportunities, at the appropriate time. 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.

      We reached this decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options. Heinz fully appreciates and regrets the impact our decision will have on employees and the communities in which these factories are located," said Michael Mullen, Senior Vice President of Corporate & Government Affairs.