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Wonder Bread, hostess factory to close down in Jamaica

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AAfter more than a century, the Wonder Bread and Hostess factory in Jamaica will be closing down in January, the food goods company announced Friday.

The head of Hostess Brands said changing market conditions and the factory’s conditions were the reasons for the closures, which will mean the loss of 200 jobs.

The more than 140-year-old factory at 168-23 Douglas Ave. was in need of modernization and the corporation could not afford the large undertaking, according to Brian Driscoll, the chief executive officer of Hostess.

“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,” he said in a statement.

The corporation has informed the state and city Labor Departments about the closure and will work with the agencies about benefits and retraining for the affected workers, who include bakery and transport employees. sales personnel, bakery outlet sales employees and some administrative positions will not be affected by the closing, according to a Hostess representative.

The building will be closed on Jan. 7, 2011 and all Hostess goods will be shipped to New York stores from out-of-state factories, the company announced.

The outlet store that operates at the factory site will continue to be open and sell Hostess products until that business is acquired, according to the company.

“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,” Driscoll said.

The factory was established by the Shults Bread Co. in the 1870s and it ran the business until 1921, when it was sold to William Ward’s United Bakeries. The factory was sold again to Interstate Bakeries Inc., the Hostess parent company, in 1995.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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