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Pilgrims Pride to cut 335 jobs companywide
Poultry processor has Gainesville plant
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Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., which operates a poultry processing plant in Gainesville, has announced that it is cutting 335 salaried positions throughout the company by the end of the month.

Corporate spokesman Ray Atkinson said the company is not releasing exact figures by location, but that the job cuts will affect an average of about 10 workers per site.

"Our company and our industry are facing the toughest operating environment in decades, and it is absolutely critical for Pilgrim’s Pride to continue to do everything we can to operate our business as efficiently as possible," Atkinson said.

"The dynamics of the chicken industry have changed dramatically over the past year, and we must continue to evaluate our organization to match the realities of the marketplace."

The employees whose jobs are being eliminated are being notified this week, he said. The company will provide severance benefits, including outplacement assistance, to those who are laid off.

"Decisions like this are always very difficult because they affect the lives of employees who have contributed so much to our company," Atkinson said. "We sincerely regret that such a decision was necessary, but we are committed to helping these employees as much as we can during this period."

Pilgrim’s Pride, which operates eight processing plants in Georgia and a further processing plant in Elberton, has been hit hard by increased feed and fuel prices this year, combined with a slower demand for chicken.

The largest chicken producer in the United States, Pilgrim’s Pride has seen its stock price slide from about $25 per share in July to about 25 cents per share in Wednesday trading.

In early 2007, the company completed the acquisition of Atlanta-based Gold Kist, in a bitterly fought battle.

The company’s financial picture has deteriorated throughout this year. On Nov. 10, Pilgrim’s Pride announced the appointment of William K. Snyder, managing partner of CRG Partners Group in Dallas, as chief restructuring officer.

Snyder will assist the company in cutting costs, developing restructuring plans and improving its long-term liquidity.

In late October, the company announced that it had reached an agreement with its lenders to extend a temporary waiver under its credit facilities through Nov. 26. Lenders also have agreed to provide continued liquidity under credit facilities during the same period.

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