Sara Lee to close plant in Shannon

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Sara Lee is closing its plant in the Tupelo Lee South Industrial Park, where it’s been operating since 1997, the company said today.

The plant, which makes the Bryan Smokies cocktail sausages, is expected to close by March 30. About 155 employees will be laid off.

Here’s a press release from Mike Cummins, Sara Lee’s director of corporate communications:

The decision to close the facility is the result of excess capacity and Sara Lee’s ongoing efforts to consolidate resources and simplify operations in the ongoing transition to a pure-play business model. Production at Tupelo will transfer to our Claryville, Ky., and St. Joseph, Mo., facilities.

While this facility is a legacy Bryan manufacturing plant, we have no intention of exiting the brand. We remain committed to the Bryan brand, its Southern heritage and maintaining our loyal following.

Any decision that affects the livelihood of our employees is made by Sara Lee only after very careful consideration. We want to emphasize that our decision is not driven by the quality of our workforce at this site. We understand this will be a very difficult time for our employees and their families. Impacted employees will receive appropriate support from the company, including severance and outplacement assistance. We also will coordinate efforts with state training and employment agencies to help facilitate and ease the transition.

We anticipate the facility will close on March 30, 2012. Employees will receive a 60-day WARN notice in accordance with federal regulations. Depending on the ramp-down schedule and facility closure needs, some employees might be able to stay longer and their termination date might be extended by mutual agreement.

For the remaining time the plant is open, our focus will continue to be operating in a safe and efficient manner and producing high-quality products.

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