Cookie maker Bake-Line Group shuts down, closing seven plants and leaving 1,300 unemployed

Tuesday, January 13th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. (AP) _ The Bake-Line Group, a 5-year-old cookie and cracker manufacturer, shut down its seven plants Monday and filed for bankruptcy, putting about 1,300 employees out of work, a company spokesman said.

Bake-Line shut down two plants in South Beloit, Ill.; two in Chattanooga, Tenn.; and one each in Pittsburgh, North Little Rock, Ark., and Marietta, Okla.; as well as its headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, spokesman Ron Bottrell said.

He said the company, which makes cookies and crackers to be sold at supermarkets, had told employees in North Little Rock and Pittsburgh last Friday that those plants would close within 60 to 90 days. He said that at the time, company officials expected negotiations to restructure the company would continue and that there were no plans to close the other plants.

Bottrell said it became clear over the weekend that expected financing would not materialize. The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and can now liquidate its assets to pay off debts, he said.

The decision to close its doors caught employees of the private-label cookie and cracker maker by surprise as they came to work Monday.

``We just came to work thinking that we had to work and they told us it was locked down,'' Barbara Charles, a worker in Pittsburgh, told Pittsburgh television station KDKA.

Bake-Line Group started operations as the Atlantic Baking Company in 1999 and changed its name in 2002 following the acquisition of the private-label baking business, Bottrell said.