Canada Bread to shut Ben’s Bakery

(Allan Dawson photo)

The Canadian arm of Mexican baked goods giant Grupo Bimbo plans to wind down its Ben’s Bakery operations in Halifax starting this summer and close its plant in November.

Canada Bread said Monday the sliced bread and English muffins made at its Halifax plant “can be produced at other bakeries in Atlantic Canada where there is available capacity with improved speed and efficiency.”

“Our industry is under mounting competitive pressure to become more efficient and this means we have to make very difficult decisions,” Canada Bread president Barry McLean said in a release.

The 50,000-square-foot plant at Halifax employs about 105 people making bread and muffins for sale under the Ben’s, Dempster’s and Villaggio brands and for retailers’ private-label use.

Operations are to be wound down starting as early as June, the company said, with the “majority” of the output consolidated at Canada Bread’s New Brunswick bakeries in Moncton and Woodstock.

Ben’s Bakery was set up in Nova Scotia in 1907 by Ben Moir and was later 60 per cent owned by Quebec bakery firm Multi-Marques, which merged into Canada Bread in 2001. Canada Bread bought the remaining 40 per cent of Ben’s Ltd. in 2002.

Canada Bread said Monday it “will continue to produce products under the Ben’s brand and deliver the same high-quality products in Atlantic Canada that our customers and consumers have come to expect.”

Affected staff will get severance packages “that go beyond provincial labour requirements,” the company said, and will also be “encouraged” to seek work at Canada Bread’s 16 other facilities across the country.

Bimbo has owned Etobicoke, Ont.-based Canada Bread since last May, when it bought full control from majority shareholder Maple Leaf Foods and others for about $1.8 billion. — Network

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