The US subsidiary of Japanese bread giant Yamazaki Baking said the move forms part of a long-term strategy that will underpin expansion.
The closure brings the number of Vie de France Yamazaki facilities across the US to five – in Los Angeles, Denver, Virginia, New York and Atlanta.
“As demand for our frozen bread dough and par-baked products grow, we determined the additional space was necessary in order to meet this demand,” said David B. Conner, vice president of public relations for Vie de France Yamazaki.
“The Chicago facility is one of our oldest and smallest facilities with no opportunity for expansion. When evaluating our current and future needs, we determined our requirement was for a facility with approximately 75,000 square feet or nearly three times the size of the Chicago facility. This expansion space was available in our existing Atlanta bread bakery,” Conner told BakeryandSnacks.com.
New products to market
He said that the shift would also enable the firm to bring new products to market given the additional space and infrastructure.
“We will continue to produce all of our existing Vie de France bread products from the new Atlanta facility and look forward to introducing some new products once new equipment is in place and operational,” Conner said.
He said the company will expand its existing lines in the Atlanta facility with a new roll line.
President and COO of Vie de France Sadao Yasumura said the decision to close the Chicago plant was very difficult but would ensure better business in the future.
“This move gives us the opportunity to consolidate our rather old and outdated Illinois facility into a more efficient, high speed production facility in Georgia. Vie de France customers will benefit from the improvements in efficiency and quality as well as increases in the variety of frozen and par-baked bread products we will be able to offer in the market,” Yasumura said.
Short-term business impact
The company said the consolidation will impact around 70 employees but will not impact business and distribution.
“Through our national distribution network and third-party frozen storage facilities, Vie de France will continue to service out of Atlanta those customers previously serviced from the Chicago facility,” Conner said.