Kellogg to begin Charlotte layoffs in November

Kellogg Co. will begin laying off employees at its bakery east of uptown in November as it moves forward with previously disclosed plans to shut down the operation.

A total of 161 employees will be laid off in four phases ending in January at the 933 Louise Ave. site, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed with the N.C. Department of Commerce. Companies are required to file the notices when they close plants or make mass layoffs.

The Michigan-based company announced the layoffs in February. At that time, the company did not indicate when layoffs would begin.

The closure comes as Kellogg is seeking to generate as much as $475 million in annual savings by 2018 through its “Project K” initiative.

As part of that plan, which is also designed to increase efficiency, the company is looking to consolidate facilities and eliminate excess capacity.

In its Commerce Department notice filed last week, the company said it had excess capacity in the Louise Avenue operation. At the plant, workers produce cookies, including Famous Amos, Austin Sandwich Creme and Iced Animals.

In a statement Tuesday, Kellogg spokesman Kris Charles said more than 30 employees have already left the plant since February to pursue other opportunities, while 161 remain employed there. The plant will close in December, but some maintenance employees are expected to remain until January.

According to property records, the plant was once Jack’s Cookie Co., which was acquired by Murray’s Bakery Products in 1987. Murray’s, an Atlanta company, was later acquired by Keebler and then Kellogg.

In addition to its breakfast cereals, Kellogg’s other brands include Cheez-It, Morningstar Farms and Pringles.

Kellogg reported lower profit in the second quarter from the same period a year ago, a decline it attributed to costs associated with Project K and integration costs from its acquisition of Pringles.

Second-quarter profit totaled $295 million, down 16 percent from the same period last year. Overall sales in the quarter totaled $3.7 billion, down less than 1 percent from the same period a year earlier.