Maple Leaf closes DC

by MM&D staff

KITCHENER, Ontario—Maple Leaf Foods has taken a major step forward in its network realignment. The company is shutting the distribution centre in its Kitchener, Ontario facility.

Dave Bauer, spokesperson for Maple Leaf, said the closure began “before Labour Day weekend and we made the decision to transition product out over the next number of weeks—between four and eight weeks”.

Distribution centre operations are being moved from Kitchener approximately 30km east along Highway 401 to the Township of Puslinch to a newly constructed DC—described by Bauer as “a world class distribution centre with 280,000sqf. It has a number of freezer and cold storage rooms. It will be used for all of our distribution of our meat products through eastern Canada. It is operated by DB Schenker on our behalf.”

The Puslinch DC, which started shipping products in July, and a new manufacturing facility in Hamilton, Ontario are part of the company’s efforts to optimize its network.

“It’s never an easy decision to close down a facility,” said Bauer. “We deeply regret the impact it has on the employees and the local community. However this was part of a broader network transformation strategy that we believe will position Maple Leaf for long-term successful growth in a very competitive market.”

The Kitchener plant was formerly a Schneider Foods facility until the company was purchased by Maple Leaf. According to Bauer, the DC “was closed on schedule. The manufacturing facility is scheduled to close in the back half of next year”.

Bauer said 150 people were employed by the company in the DC, and of that number about half are continuing on with their duties, at least temporarily.

“About 75 employees of the 150 employees have remained on and will support the transition of product and product shipping and receiving for a number of weeks, and ensure a smooth transition of products to our eastern distribution centre,” said Bauer.

“Of the other 75, some others have joined our third party distribution partners so they’re still involved with our business, some have transitioned to other jobs within Maple Leaf, others have elected retirement, and others we continue to help them find other employment—locally and within Maple Leaf as well.”

While he didn’t have any specifics available about how many people fall into the final category—those still looking for work—Bauer admitted there “are a number of them”. A majority of the 150 employees were hourly workers and union members, the rest were non-union salaried employees.