Russell Stover Chocolates will close its Montrose candy plant seven months ahead of schedule due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, a move that will put 217 workers out of a job in late July and August.
The chocolatier, based in Kansas City, Mo., announced on Jan. 16 that it would shut down the plant and a related retail store by March 2021 and shift operations to facilities in Texas and Kansas. The plant was Montrose’s largest manufacturer and had produced sweet treats for 45 years of the company’s 97 years in business.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was impossible to anticipate or foresee in January of 2020, we have been forced to accelerate the Montrose and retail store closure earlier than initially planned. The closing of these facilities will be permanent,” Jim Kissinger, vice president of human resources, wrote the Colorado Department of Labor in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter.
The Montrose operations employed about 400 people at the time of the January announcement, but many workers had already left for other jobs. The remaining 217 workers will be dismissed in two waves, one around July 24 and the remainder in a final phase around Aug. 28.
The state released two other WARN letters on Tuesday from resort hotels, which, like the Brown Palace in Denver, said they will not open to normal operations as quickly as expected.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort informed the state that short-term job reductions taken on March 21 will likely last much longer than first expected. WHC Payroll Company, which operates as the St. Regis Aspen, informed the state that 263 out of 264 employees faced extended furloughs, layoffs or job hour reductions expected to last beyond six months.
“These expanded and extended government directives have caused a sudden, severe and worsening downturn in the hospitality industry that now makes it reasonably foreseeable that these temporary actions may extend beyond six months,” Darren Zemnick, the hotel’s director of human resources, told the state in a letter.
The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Hotel in Eagle County also told the state that what was expected to be a temporary closure that began on March 22 will be more prolonged.
“While there are encouraging signs that our economy can begin to reopen in some areas, it has now become clear that the demand for travel, events, and hospitality services will take substantially longer to resume than previously anticipated,” Herb Rackliff, general manager of the hotel, said in his WARN letter. “With likely ongoing social distancing, until a reliable COVID-19 vaccine or treatment becomes available, we cannot predict when our way of doing business will return to normal.”
The hotel will extend furloughs for 102 of its staff and dismiss seven workers, primarily in management, sales and the front office. A majority of the furloughs are expected to last through Dec. 12, although several workers will be brought back sooner as the hotel partially reopens.
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