Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business after striking workers failed to heed a Thursday deadline to return to work, the company said.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in announcing that the firm had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter its business. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
Hostess Brands Inc. had earlier warned employees that it would file to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by 5 p.m. Thursday. In announcing its decision, Hostess said its wind down would mean the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the United States.
Hostess suspended bakery operations at all its factories and said its stores will remain open for several days to sell already-baked products. In the Chicago area, there were reports of Hostess products flying off the shelves.
Rayburn told The Associated Press that there was no buyer waiting in the wings to rescue the company. But without giving details, he said that there has been interest in some of its 30 brands. Experts agreed that it was likely the biggest brands would survive.
The Irving, Texas-based company had already reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. But thousands of members in its second-biggest union went on strike late last week after rejecting in September a contract offer that cut wages and benefits. Officials for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union say the company stopped contributing to workers' pensions last year.