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Heinz to sell Canadian plant slated to close, jobs saved

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 12:27 p.m.

H.J. Heinz Co. reached a deal to sell a factory in Canada that the Pittsburgh company planned to close in restructuring North American operations.

Heinz said on Thursday that Highbury Canco Corp., a Toronto-based consortium of investors including the plant's manager, agreed to buy the Leamington, Ontario, plant and become a contract manufacturer for some Heinz products produced there. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

When the deal closes, 250 workers would keep their jobs at the plant, Highbury Canco said in a statement. Heinz employs 740 people in Leamington, known as the tomato capital of Canada.

“The Leamington plant has an excellent workforce, and Ontario's farmers are amongst the best in the world,” said Pradeep Sood, a Highbury Canco representative. “We believe that our investment will be the cornerstone to providing Ontario's agricultural products around the world, not just in Canada.”

Investments in the plant could lead to growth, which would increase jobs, the company said.

“I want to congratulate Heinz and Canco for their decision to reinvest in the Leamington facility,” Eric Hoskins, Ontario's minister of economic development, trade and employment, said in a statement. “This is good news for workers, local farmers, non-food suppliers and distributors, and for the Leamington area.”

In November, Heinz said it would shutter the Leamington factory and plants in Idaho and South Carolina to improve the efficiency of its manufacturing operation.

Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said the company is looking to sell the other two plants. He declined to explain how the deal would lead to cost savings for Heinz.

Heinz said Wednesday its cost-cutting review shifted to Europe. The company plans to close factories in Belgium and Germany, laying off about 350 workers.

Alex Nixon is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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