No layoffs planned, manager says

Terry Roberts
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Farming Partner in Country Ribbon cuts hundreds of jobs at Nova Scotia poultry processing operation

There are no plans to slash jobs at Country Ribbon, the province's only fully integrated chicken producer and processor, says chief executive officer Ian Pittman.

"We will continue focusing on our cost structure, eliminating waste wherever we can and working with all our employees to continue to provide good quality products and service to our customer," Pittman said Friday.

A lone employee stands outside the St. John's Country Ribbon Inc. chicken processing facility in Pleasantville Friday afternoon. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

There are no plans to slash jobs at Country Ribbon, the province's only fully integrated chicken producer and processor, says chief executive officer Ian Pittman.

"We will continue focusing on our cost structure, eliminating waste wherever we can and working with all our employees to continue to provide good quality products and service to our customer," Pittman said Friday.

Questions about the health of the province's poultry processing sector were raised this week after Nova Scotia-based ACA Co-operative Ltd., a major shareholder in Country Ribbon, announced it was closing a money-losing processing plant in Kentville and scaling back operations in New Minas. In total, the company is laying off 302 employees.

ACA and New Brunswick-based Co-op Atlantic own Country Ribbon. The companies took over from Integrated Poultry Ltd. (IPL), a consortium of chicken producers, in the late 1990s after IPL went bankrupt.

Country Ribbon employs roughly 325 people at its broiler farm near Cochrane Pond, a feed mill on Topsail Road and a processing plant in Pleasantville. The business also sustains roughly 150 spinoff jobs among its suppliers.

Most of the workers are represented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Private and Public Employees (NAPE). Chris Henley, an employee relations officer, said he's not overly concerned "because we've been given assurances that it's not going to happen."

However, Henley said it's a "volatile operation" because of challenges with operating costs, especially feed and energy costs, and shifts in the market.

"It really puts them into a pretty precarious situation from time to time. They had some significant challenges to keep their heads above water. But they're a very viable organization when you consider the fact they've gone from an organization that had, in the IPL days, a significant debt load and were in the red on a consistent basis, to being a company that is making money. It's a major turnaround from where they were five or 10 years ago," Henley said.

Pittman acknowledged the company has faced some challenges in the past year, and has been forced to pass along some of those higher costs to the consumer. But he said the company is confident in its people, products and business model.

"We'll manage through the economic challenges we face," he said.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: IPL, ACA Co, Co-op Atlantic Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Private and Public Employees

Geographic location: Country Ribbon, Nova Scotia, Kentville New Minas Topsail Road Pleasantville

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Recent comments

  • Dirty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    No layoffs planned, manager says.

    Yup, thats what they all say just before the cuts start. Look around at everyother comment by all the others that have used the same media spin. Once they make a comment like this the lay-offs come shortly after.

  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    What challenges? They were given the company for 3 bucks not to mention millions more in government grants.

  • Dirty
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    No layoffs planned, manager says.

    Yup, thats what they all say just before the cuts start. Look around at everyother comment by all the others that have used the same media spin. Once they make a comment like this the lay-offs come shortly after.

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    What challenges? They were given the company for 3 bucks not to mention millions more in government grants.