A major eastern Iowa employer has closed abruptly, laying off 81 people.
Richelieu Foods in Grundy Center told Iowa Workforce Development on Feb. 28 it would be getting rid of 81 jobs by April 28 and closing its plant.
According to the Grundy Register, the company closed the plant the same day it made the announcement on Feb. 28.
But Brian Fox, CEO of Richelieu Foods, told Starting Line all 81 people would be paid through April 28 “in line with the WARN Act,” which requires large employers to give 60 days’ notice for plant closures. A few workers would remain to help end plant operations, he added.
The company cited “cost reduction and business consolidation” as the reason for the plant’s closure, saying if employees wanted to move to Illinois, Wisconsin, or Ohio, they would be considered for positions at the remaining facilities.
“Closing a facility is a hard decision, but one that will ultimately improve the competitiveness of Richelieu for the long term,” Fox said in a release. “The community and people of Grundy Center have been great partners for Richelieu over many years here, and we will do what we can to help our employees find work at other businesses in the area.”
Illinois-based Richelieu Foods, founded in 1862, manufactures pizzas, dressings and sauces for retail, foodservice and deli use. It has four other locations in the Midwest.
In Grundy Center, the plant specifically made dressings and sauces. The plant was not unionized as of its last federal health and safety inspection in 2017.
In 2018, the company was bought by German-based Freiberger Company in 2018, which is itself owned by German-based Südzucker AG, the largest sugar producer in the world. Südzucker is doing so well financially, they’ve twice raised their income projections in the past few months.
This story was updated March 7 to add context on workers’ jobs from the CEO of Richelieu.
by Amie Rivers
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