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‘Business as usual’ for Canada Bread

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Maple Leaf Foods Inc. officials expect “business as usual” at the Canada Bread operation in Hamilton after a Mexican company finalizes its purchase of the bakery business.

“All employees will continue to work at Canada Bread,” said Maple Leafs Inc. spokesperson Dave Bauer.

Grupo Bimbo announced it was purchasing for $1.8 billion 90 per cent of Canada Bread Feb. 12. The sale will assist Maple Leaf to help pay off its debt, and allow it to continue to restructure its remaining process meat business.

Canada Bread brands include Dempster’s, Sunshine, Villagrio and Olivieri, as well as a line of frozen baked goods. The $100-million Canada Bread facility at the Red Hill Industrial Park, which came into full operation in 2012, have contracts for fresh bread, tortillas, buns, rolls, and English muffins with grocery chains Metro and Sobey’s.

Canada Bread employs about 330 full-time people.

Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnson said she has been told by Maple Leaf officials the takeover will be “smooth, and seamless.”

Maple Leaf Foods choseHamiltonto relocate its meat processing operation a few years ago into a new $395-million facility that is expected to be up and running later this year. The Glover Road business is expected to employ about 670 employees, and produce deli meats and wieners.

Canada Bread employs 5,000 people in Canada, U.S. and Britain. It has 20 plants in Canada, three plants in the United States, and two facilities in Britain. In 2013, it had estimated sales of $1.6 billion.

Canada Bread’s frozen food has fallen by almost five per cent over the past three years, while fresh goods have slipped by almost two per cent.

Bimbo, which has brands such as Sara Lee and Earth Grains, employs 126,000 at 144 plants.

Bauer stated that the Mexican company “plans to invest significantly and to grow fresh, frozen and U.K businesses to further expand their geographic presence and product portfolio.”

Maple Leaf Food expects the transactions to close in the second quarter of 2014. The agreement, though, is still subject to approval under Canada’s Competition Act and Investment Canada Act, in addition to United States laws.

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