Dole Layoffs 2018: 140 Job Cuts in Watsonville, CA as It Continues to Reduce Operations

Dole Layoffs 2018
iStock.com/JLGutierrez

Dole Food Company, Inc. will lay off 140 workers in California by mid-January following the cessation of some of its raspberry-harvesting operations. The Dole layoffs in 2018 follow what was a difficult time for the world’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable company. The agribusiness laid off hundreds of employees in 2017, and the Dole berry operations were similarly cut last year.

The Dole Layoffs in 2018 come at a time of transition for the massive produce company. The layoffs are the third round in six months as it seeks to reduce its costs. Meanwhile, the Dole job cuts in 2018 arrive at the same time the company is looking to take itself public once again after withdrawing from the stock market in 2013.

While the company looks to make its initial public offering (IPO), however, Belgium-based Greenyard Foods NV (EBR:GREEN) announced in late December that it was in talks to purchase Dole.

The state of flux that Dole finds itself in has led to massive land sell-offs, as well as the newly announced Dole layoffs in 2018.

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Dole’s Earlier Layoffs in California

The Dole 2018 layoffs are part of a continuing trend that saw the produce company shed hundreds of workers last year. Dole has debt somewhere in the vicinity of $1.3 billion , while it maintains low margins and declining revenue. The Dole revenue decline is also a major problem for the company, which reported a three percent decline in revenue from 2015 to 2016, again spurring sell-offs and other cost-cutting measures like job cuts.

Dole layoffs in 2017 claimed over 400 jobs in Watsonville, CA. The move came as the company shuttered its strawberry-growing operations.

“These actions continue the strategic review of the company’s current production levels and forecast projections and are part of an ongoing initiative to evaluate all berry operations to ensure they remain aligned with our growth objectives and position Dole to remain competitive in the market place,” said Dole spokesperson William Goldfield, when that round of layoffs was announced.

“Reducing our workforce of dedicated employees and closing facilities are among the most difficult decisions we make, but in light of increasing production costs, as an example, these actions are necessary for the future of our business and will position Dole to better serve our customers with the highest quality berries that they have come to expect.”

Another part of its berry production line—a berry cooling plant—was closed in Oxnard, shedding 172 employees.

Alongside the Dole layoffs in 2018 and 2017, the company is looking to offload property as well. Its corporate headquarters went up for sale earlier in 2017 and it reduced its berry operations throughout the year in California.

The company also effected a massive sale of land in Hawaii, ridding itself of 15,000 acres.

The moves made are a part of the company’s plan to simultaneously boost its margins, reduce its debt, reduce costs, make itself more attractive to buyers, and prepare itself for a future IPO. The world’s largest fruit and vegetable producer has a lot on its plate in 2018.

 

Sources

More layoffs coming for Dole Berry,” The Packer, January 2, 2018.

“Dole Food Co. to layoff over 400 Watsonville workers as doors close,” KION, September 6, 2017.

Dole, the world’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable company, is stepping back from Southland,” Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2017.

Greenyard aims to buy Dole Food Company,” Fresh Fruit Portal, December 19, 2017.

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