A former industrial bakery in Biddeford is now listed for sale for $8.45 million, erasing any hope that it will be reopened by the company that took it over after Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy and laid off hundreds of employees.
Flowers Foods, which acquired the bakery last year in a larger deal, is selling the plant along with eight other bakeries and 21 depots across the country.
About 370 employees lost their jobs in Biddeford when Hostess shut down in November 2012. The closure put 500 people in Maine and 18,000 people nationally out of work.
Georgia-based Flowers Foods acquired several bread brands, 20 bakeries and 36 depots from the former Hostess Brands company in a $360 million deal approved last year by a bankruptcy court.
“We have listed the Biddeford bakery and eight other closed Hostess bakeries for sale because they do not fit with our strategic growth plan and are located in areas where we have sufficient production capacity,” Sally Bowman, a Flowers Foods spokeswoman, said in an email.
For months after Flowers Foods acquired the former Hostess properties, company officials were noncommittal about their plans for the bakery in Biddeford. During that time, some former Hostess workers held out hope that it would reopen.
Sue Tapley, a former Hostess worker from Scarborough, said many people who worked there thought there was a chance it would reopen.
“I went by the other day and saw it was on the market,” she said. “It’s kind of like closure. I guess this just says it’s definitely over.”
Tapley, who has been unemployed since Hostess closed, is now in school to train for a new career in the medical field. She said most of the former co-workers she has heard from have moved on to other jobs or enrolled in school.
The bakery, built in 1998, is listed for sale by The Boulos Co. for $8.45 million. The 265,000-square-foot building and 40-acre lot are assessed by the city at nearly $17 million. The building has 32 loading docks and a truck maintenance facility, according to the real estate listing.
Tony McDonald, the listing broker, said the property has been on the market for about three weeks. Flowers Foods is removing the bakery equipment to sell or move to its other facilities.
“We’ve had a few parties tour the properties and had some offers, but we don’t have a deal yet,” McDonald said.
Daniel Stevenson, Biddeford’s economic development director, said the bakery is in a “highly desirable” location, close to Interstate 95 and a railroad line.
“It’s unfortunate so many jobs were lost when the bakery closed,” he said. “However, now that we know Flowers Foods is selling the building, the city wants to be aggressive in working with Boulos to find tenants to buy or lease that building and create jobs.”
Hostess closed after years of financial problems and a strike by the bakery union, causing the iconic Twinkie snack cake to temporarily disappear from store shelves. The plant in Biddeford, which made chocolate cupcakes, Sno Balls and other baked goods, was one of 12 plants nationally where workers went on strike before the closure.
In March 2013, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of most of Hostess Brands Inc.’s assets, worth about $800 million, to three buyers.
Flowers Foods acquired most of Hostess’ bread brands, including Wonder, Nature’s Pride, Home Pride and Merita, for $360 million. Two private equity firms, Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co., bought a line of snack cakes that included Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos for $410 million.
The Beefsteak bread brand was acquired by Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo for $31.9 million.
At a shareholders meeting in May, Flowers Foods outlined its plan for acquired assets such as the plant in Biddeford. Although it plans to sell nearly 30 properties nationwide, the company also plans to open two or three bakeries in 2015-16 and another two or three in 2017-18 to support sales growth.