Yogurt factory to close, lay off 147 workers

Business

Nearly 150 people are expected to lose their jobs when a Connecticut yogurt factory closes next year.

A city official tells News 8 Danone North America filed notice with the state on Monday that it’s closing the YoCrunch complex on Spring Street in Naugatuck next March. It’s been there for more than 15 years.

The news came as quite a surprise — and not a good one.

“It was a shock,” said Ron Pugliese, CEO of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation. “This is a company that we’ve done a lot of work with. We helped them get in the building they’re in, given them some incentives through the State Department of Economic and Community Development. They’e been nothing but cooperative. They’re a great company to work with. They’ve been a great company for the community.”

The YoCrunch yogurt brand was made at the Naugatuck plant.

Company officials say 147 jobs will be eliminated. Shamel Dellimore is one of those whose future will include unemployment. He says workers are trying to hang in there.

“Everybody’s just being strong,” Shamel said. “It’s a little emotional.”

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A Danone spokesman says the company will help employees find other opportunities. He says the company will continue YoCrunch production at other facilities.

Michael Neuwirth, Senior Director of External Communication for Danone North America issued the following statement:

“We deeply regret the impact this planned closure, targeted for Q1 2019, will have on our employees and our supply partners in the community surrounding this location. We will work diligently to assist them as they look for other employment and customer opportunities both internally and externally. Danone North America will continue to produce these popular yogurts and will continue to use the wholesome ingredients that make them so widely loved. The planned plant closure in Naugatuck will lead to the transition of production of YoCrunch yogurt products to sister facilities within our production network in the U.S.”

Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. Chief Executive Officer, Ronald Pugliese, says Danone received a five-year, 80 percent property tax abatement from the borough when it bought YoCrunch in 2013.

Pugliese says he’s disappointed in the decision.

“The thing that kind of bothers me is that we got no notice from the company,” Pugliese said. “But this decision wasn’t even made in Naugatuck. It wasn’t even made in the United States of America. It was made in Paris. So, somebody just made a decision.”

Danone North America’s parent company reported more than $29 billion in sales last year. The French company employs more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Pugliese says Naugatuck will bounce back from this.

“I am looking forward to getting my hands on that building and getting another company in there,” he said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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