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Chicago to Lose 655 Jobs with Closing of Libby Operations

September 27, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ Libby, McNeill & Libby Inc., a canned-food company founded here 117 years ago, will close its Chicago operations and move production of its brand-name products to other facilities, eliminating 655 jobs, according to its parent, Nestle Holdings Inc.

Libby was founded in 1868 as a corned-beef packer and had grown locally to include a headquarters, a food production plant, and a distribution center.

The facilities all will close in the next nine to 15 months.

The Libby food product line will continue as part of Nestle’s Carnation Co., based in Los Angeles, and Nestle Foods Corp. of White Plains, N.Y., all part of Nestle S.A. of Switzerland, said James M. Biggar, president and chief executive officer of Nestle Holdings.

″Competitive realities of the marketplace and the necessity to best utilize our current marketing and production strengths required us to make this difficult decision,″ Biggars said in a prepared statement released Wednesday.

He said some employees would be offered transfers, and discussions with workers would be held in the next 30 days.

In 1982, Libby sold its fruit and vegetable canning business and cut back operations. Before that divestiture, it had operated 16 factories employing 1,200 people, with annual sales of about $500 million.

Libby, which produces canned meats, salmon, pumpkin and juices, employs about 450 people at its plant and distribution center southwest of Chicago and 205 at its headquarters.

Spokesmen for the employees’ unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, could not be reached for comment.

Leonard P. Judy, Libby’s president, said canned meat operations will be transferred to Carnation’s plant in Trenton, Mo., and beverage production will move to Garden City, N.Y., and West Coast production sites. Canned pumpkin operations will continue to be produced at Morton, near Peoria, he said.

Libby, acquired by Nestle in 1970, includes such brand names as Crosse & Blackwell, Juicy Juice, Heart’s Delight, Broadcast and Maggi.

A spokesman for Nestle Holdings said its other Chicago-area businesses are hotels and restaurants operated by the Stouffer Foods unit.

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