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Olymel to close two plants, risking more than 400 jobs
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

18 September 2023

Olymel to close two plants, risking more than 400 jobs

Canadian meat processor Olymel has made a series of announcements as part of measures to reorganise and optimise its business and operations. The company’s management has announced the definitive closure of its boning and packaging plant in Princeville, Centre-du-Québec, Canada, affecting 301 employees who have been given 16 weeks’ notice of termination. Olymel says that the plant will cease operations on 10 November – of the 16 weeks of notice, eight weeks will be worked until closure, and the remaining eight weeks will be paid out in a lump sum. The meat processor will roll out a relocation plan that will enable the Princeville employees to be relocated within the company to other facilities with labour needs. It says that the plant in Princeville also has 33 temporary foreign workers on staff and that it will work with authorities so those employees can apply for relocation to another Olymel facility. Yanick Gervais, president and CEO of Olymel, said: "Today more than ever, it is necessary to continue to rethink our organisation in order to optimise all of our activities. The fresh pork industry is slowly getting back on track after two years of tumult that forced us to reorganise our operations. We explored various avenues for the Princeville plant, but we found that its operations could be handled in our three slaughtering, cutting and boning plants, namely in St-Esprit, in the Lanaudière region, in Yamachiche, in Mauricie and in Ange-Gardien, in Montérégie West.” He continued: “It is with reluctance that we announce today the permanent closure of the Princeville factory. This decision, difficult but necessary, is part of Olymel's desire to continue our efforts to return to profitability in the sector, for the benefit of our entire organisation." In the notice, Olymel management also announced the closure of its poultry further processing plant in Paris, Ontario, Canada, “as part of an effort to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and ensure profitability across all its facilities”. The closure will affect 93 employees, who have been given 14 weeks’ notice of closure, with operations set to close indefinitely on 22 December. Affected employees have also been given the option to sign up to a relocation programme, to continue working at other Olymel plants within the Ontario region. Simultaneously, Olymel has unveiled a CAD 8 million (approx. $5.2 million) investment at its existing Oakville, Ontario, plant, about 75km away from the Paris plant. Olymel plans for refurbishment work to begin in the coming weeks, where one of the production lines currently based in Paris will be installed. Once completed, the refurbishment will create 62 new jobs. Gervais continued: "With the Paris and Oakville plants both operating in the poultry further processing sector and located a short distance apart, Olymel found itself running two plants that were working below their respective capacities. Consolidating the operations of the two plants in Oakville will put an end to this situation and generate significant gains in efficiency and savings, as well as positive outcomes for the Orenda poultry further processing plant in Brampton and the Sainte-Rosalie plant in Montérégie Est, Quebec." The restructuring in the Ontario poultry sector is set to have a positive impact on the activities of Olymel's poultry further processing plant in Sainte-Rosalie, in the Saint-Hyacinthe region. The company says that by taking equipment from the Paris plant and installing it in Sainte-Rosalie, it will increase production capacity for certain poultry products and could create additional jobs at the facility. Finally, Olymel's management announced that it is accelerating the closure of its Saint-Simon distribution centre in Montérégie Est – the centre will close on 26 January 2024, more than a year ahead of the date planned. The 15 employees at this facility were given 19 weeks' notice of termination and will all be offered the opportunity to relocate to another Olymel distribution centre or to one of the other facilities in the Sainte-Hyacinthe region. Gervais finished: "On behalf of Olymel's management, I would like to thank all Olymel employees affected by the decisions...The announcements are consistent with the measures taken by Olymel over the past two years to address the difficult challenges facing our markets, optimise our operations and return to profitability after years of losses...Olymel will take great care to ensure that the implementation of relocation plans for Princeville, Saint-Simon and Paris, Ontario, will enable employees affected by the closures to pursue their careers within our company according to our employment needs."

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