Blue Bell to shed 37% of workforce

20 May 2015

Iconic US dairy company Blue Bell – which was forced into an across-the-board product recall as a result of a listeria outbreak that caused three deaths – has announced that, due to the extended timeline required to ensure the highest quality and safety of its products when the company resumes production, and because supply and […]

Blue Bell to shed 37% of workforce

job-cuts-18944053Iconic US dairy company Blue Bell – which was forced into an across-the-board product recall as a result of a listeria outbreak that caused three deaths – has announced that, due to the extended timeline required to ensure the highest quality and safety of its products when the company resumes production, and because supply and distribution will be limited for some time to come, it will reduce the size of its work force and take other cost-cutting measures, including furloughs and salary reductions.

“The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell’s CEO and President,” said Blue Bell Creameries CEO and President Paul Kruse. “At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible.  At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally.”

The process of cleaning and improving Blue Bell’s four production plants is going to take longer than the company initially anticipated, it said, especially at the main plant in Brenham where major repairs and equipment replacements are expected.  There is no firm timeline for when Blue Bell will begin producing ice cream again. When production resumes, Blue Bell said, it will be limited and phased in over time.

Approximately 1,400 employees will be furloughed, and approximately 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees – or 37% of the total Blue Bell workforce of 3,900 – will be laid off, Kruse said.

Blue Bell will also suspend operations and lay off employees at distribution centres throughout the USA.