Wonder Bread bakery in Jamaica to close

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Hostess Brands, Inc. will soon be closing its Wonder Bread bakery in Jamaica. The facility, which was built in the 1870s, was in need of modernization, an undertaking that would be difficult and expensive given the age and configuration of the plant.

The Jamaica bakery employs approximately 200 plant and transport employees. It will close on January 7, 2011.

Route sales personnel, bakery outlet sales employees and some administrative positions will not be affected.

For the present time, the Jamaica bakery outlet store will remain open. The bakery outlet store and administrative and distribution offices remain open for business and will move to new locations in the area when the current site is sold.

The Jamaica bakery is a 100,000-square-foot facility located at 168-23 Douglas Avenue. Built in the 1870s, it was originally operated as Shults Bread Company and sold to William Ward’s United Bakeries in 1921. The company was renamed Continental Baking Co. in 1925.

Seventy years later, in 1995, the business was purchased by Interstate Bakeries Corporation, now Hostess Brands, Inc. The bakery produces Wonder Bread Classic and other Wonder varieties, Beefsteak Breads, and Home Pride varieties as well as private label breads.

“It is always a difficult decision to close one of our facilities, but during this slow economic recovery, we must carefully evaluate all options and take prudent steps to make our system more efficient and balance productivity and demand,” said Hostess Chief Executive Officer Brian Driscoll. “We want to thank our employees for their years of service and dedication. We deeply regret the impact this will have on our employees and their families. We are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible.”

City, county and state government officials have been notified of the bakery’s closure, including the NY Department of Labor Rapid Response Services liaison for New York City.

Over the coming weeks, Hostess Brands will work with the NY State Department of Labor to provide information to affected employees about unemployment insurance benefits. Access to job re-training, re-employment or other assistance with new employment will be provided through the appropriate state and local agencies or their workforce partners.

Hostess Brands also employs approximately 500 personnel in the New York metro region whose jobs will not be affected.

Hostess Brands sales and retail personnel will continue to serve area customers without interruption with bread and snack cake products sourced from Hostess bakeries located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wayne, New Jersey and Biddeford, Maine.