New Seasons Market’s Central Kitchen Will Remain Closed Indefinitely But Workers Will Not Lose Pay or Benefits

"This in no way was related to the merger or our new buyers,” the company’s CEO said.

New Seasons Market Slabtown (WW Staff)

New Seasons Market's Central Kitchen, which supplies baked goods and prepared foods to Portland stores, will remain closed without a re-opening date.

The kitchen's staff were abruptly notified of the indefinite closure when they showed up to work on Dec. 29. Management then informed workers that the facility could remain closed until at least Jan. 7.

Julie Teune, a spokesperson for the company, says it's still unclear when the Central Kitchen will open again.

"The assessment work is continuing as expected, and we will have an updated timeline in the next few weeks," Teune says. "Central Kitchen work is intended to resume in stages, and we shared this update with all staff in meetings yesterday. All Central Kitchen staff are continuing to receive their regular pay and benefits during the temporary suspension of operations."

During yesterday's meeting with Central Kitchen employees, New Seasons' CEO Forrest Hoffmaster apologized to staff for the way management handled the closure. He told workers they would all continue to have jobs at New Seasons and assured them that there would be no gaps in their paychecks or benefits.

In a recording of the meeting obtained by WW, Hoffmaster told staff: "I just want to start off with my deepest apology for the way that this was communicated to you guys on Sunday. It is not at all in line with how we want to be as a leadership team and how we want to be as a company."

He continued to note that the closure was not due to New Seasons' recent sale to South Korean company Good Food Holdings. Rather, he said, it was because the company had hired outside consultants to assess the facility's workflow, machinery and production and decided "the only way we could really do this work is to suspend operations for a period of time."

"This in no way was related to the merger or our new buyers," he said. "In fact, they are coming here next week to talk through what can we build and create out of this facility and transfer up to Seattle."

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