Nestle to buy High's ice cream plant Fate of 130 employees at Laurel facility to be determined later

August 09, 1996|By Abbe Gluck | Abbe Gluck,SUN STAFF

Nestle Ice Cream said yesterday that it will acquire an ice cream production plant in Laurel, a move the company said will facilitate its East Coast distribution efforts.

Nestle, which currently operates a production facility in Bakersfield, Calif., said it has entered a definitive agreement to purchase the 100,000-square-foot facility owned by High's Dairies Inc. at 9090 Whiskey Bottom Road.

Terms were not disclosed.

The ice cream division, a Solon, Ohio-based affiliate of Nestle USA, chose the High's facility because Maryland allows for quick and broad distribution along the East Coast and because the company has used High's in the past as a "co-packer" to produce ice cream on the East Coast, said Roz O'Hearn, a Nestle spokeswoman.

And although Nestle will continue to use several other co-packers, "We had come to the point where we needed to expand our own capacity," she said.

While O'Hearn said Nestle will likely hire some of the 130 employees currently working at the Laurel facility, she said no final decisions will be made until the company completes retooling the plant next spring.

For High's, the sale "was a strategic move, because we realized substantial capital gain would place us in the position to better serve our markets," said Harry A. Lund, chief executive officer of Protein Capital Corp., of Stamford, Conn., which owns High's as well as two other dairies. Lund said High's is in the process of creating a joint venture that will give it access to another facility. The venture will be announced in the next two weeks.

Until then, High's will continue to produce ice cream novelties under its private label, East Coast Ice Cream, at Fike's Dairy, of Uniontown, Pa., which is owned by Protein Capital. Embassy Dairy, in Waldorf, is the third dairy owned by Protein.

Combined sales from the three dairies, which serve markets along the East Coast, were $150 million last year, Lund said.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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