BRATTLEBORO — More than 90 employees at Vermont Bread Co. lost their jobs Monday, when an investment firm permanently ceased operations at the Brattleboro bakery’s parent company.
Mass-termination notices filed with the Vermont Department of Labor that day indicated that workers at Koffee Kup Bakery, which owned Vermont Bread Co. and was acquired April 1 by American Industrial Acquisition Corp. (AIAC), were laid off.
That included 91 employees at the Koffee Kup plant on Cotton Mill Hill in Brattleboro — where Vermont Bread Co., founded in 1978, manufactured its baked goods — and 156 at its Burlington, Vt., location. Koffee Kup also had a facility in Connecticut.
Koffee Kup employees were informed of the company’s closure Monday, according to AIAC adviser Jeff Sands.
Sands said in a news release Tuesday that Koffee Kup had suffered financial losses in each of the past four years. That bakery had been unable to find a new investor “willing to commit the resources necessary to bring the company back to health,” he said.
AIAC, a private equity firm based in New York, acquired Koffee Kup just 25 days before the bakery’s closure, according to an April 7 news release from Koffee Kup’s financial adviser, G2 Capital Advisors. The bakery was previously owned by an organization called KUPCO, the release states.
“The completion of this transaction will certainly drive the development of KKB in the interest of all its employees as well as financial partners and suppliers,” KUPCO owner Hubert Aubery said in the release.
A G2 Capital Advisors associate involved with the AIAC acquisition declined Tuesday to comment on Koffee Kup’s closure.
The bakery was founded in 1940 and acquired Vermont Bread Co. in 2013, according to the April 7 news release from G2. Koffee Kup had 500 employees across its three facilities earlier this month, it stated.
The company manufactured baked goods, including bread, donuts and English muffins, and distributed products to more than 4,500 locations in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, according to the release.
Brattleboro selectboard member Tim Wessel blasted Koffee Kup’s closure on social media Tuesday, calling it a “callous move” and saying it had “blindsided” the town.
Koffee Kup route drivers based in Raynham, Mass. — one of several distribution hubs — had not heard from the company as of Wednesday morning, according to Frank Machado, a driver at that location for nearly six years.
Machado, 49, said he learned of Koffee Kup’s closure from news reports Tuesday. Route drivers in Raynham suspected trouble when they were asked Monday to return their trucks to the warehouse because the truck supplier wanted them back, he said.
“That right there didn’t sound good at all,” he said. “That sounded like the business was coming to an end.”
The drivers’ boss texted them that night, telling them not to show up for work the next day, according to Machado, but they were never informed that Koffee Kup had closed.
“We don’t even know whether we’re going to get paid for [Monday], he said. “… At this point nobody knows.”
Calling the Koffee Kup closure “very unprofessional,” Machado said he has found an open job as a route driver for another baked-goods supplier, though it would require a longer commute from his home in Mattapoisett, Mass.
Vermont’s Labor Department has been making sure Koffee Kup employees know of the company’s closure since Monday, according to spokesman Kyle Thweatt. Those conversations include offering workers help applying for unemployment benefits and finding other employment opportunities, Thweatt said.
“We do our best on our side to provide support as immediately as possible,” he said.