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Sara Lee to lay off nearly 1,700 employees

/ Source: The Associated Press

Sara Lee Corp. said Monday it will lay off nearly 1,700 employees as part of a reorganization plan to increase business performance.

The cuts represent about 3 percent of its overall workforce of 54,000.

About 1,200 workers will be laid off when the company closes its pork processing and FlavoTech spice production plants in West Point, Miss., on March 30. Workers were told of the layoffs Monday morning.

“Unfortunately, after looking at our business, we determined that these facilities will not allow us to meet our efficiency or long-term profitability expectations,” Ken Brandenburg, vice president of operations in the company’s food and beverage division said in a statement.

Another 489 workers will be laid off around the globe as part of the restructuring. Those layoffs will result in a $40 million pretax charge.

Sara Lee said it will take a $152 million noncash pretax charge in the quarter ended Dec. 30, mainly due to continued declines in its Brazilian coffee operation. That figure includes a $34 million charge to close the Mississippi factories.

Sara Lee shares rose 12 cents to $17.22 in afternoon trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.