Blue Bell Creameries to layoff a third of its employees

Friday, Blue Bell Creameries announced a third of their staff have been laid off.

A spokesperson for the company said no one saw this coming, but the layoffs will have a huge impact on small town Brenham, which is home to one of their largest production facilities.

"Blue Bell is really the soul of Brenham," said Joyce Fleetwood who lives in the town.

Blue Bell Creameries has employed about 800 people in Brenham, making it one of the biggest employers in town.

"It's very emotional for each of us," said Joe Robertson, advertising and public relations director for Blue Bell Creameries.

The ice cream company announced it laid off 1,450 employees nationwide and furloughed another 1,400.

"We're sorry this is happening. We did not anticipate this happening and we tried everything we could so it wouldn't happen, but here we are," said Robertson.

Blue Bells troubles started after a listeria outbreak killed three people and hospitalized seven others. The company then voluntarily recalled all products last month.

"From the beginning of this process, when the recall started, we immediately thought about ways to cut costs and expenses," said Robertson.

Company leaders said unfortunately the time it will take to clean production facilities and replace and repair equipment is longer than anticipated. Robertson said that left Blue Bell with no other choice but to let people go.

"We're hoping that some of the business owners and local companies will help some of the employees in this area," said Robertson.

The community in Brenham is not giving up on their main attraction.

"It's making the community stronger in a lot of ways because Blue Bell is so loved here, not just the ice cream, but the whole concept," said Fleetwood.

Robertson said the ice cream Texans know and love will be back on shelves sometime soon.

"We're going to have to start out with a limited number of flavors, a limited number of product lines and then we'll crawl for a while, we'll regain the confidence of the consumer, and then we'll start to walk again," said Robertson.

Fleetwood said until that day comes she will have "fingers and toes crossed and lots of prayers too."

Blue Bell leaders said they are asking employers with open positions to email information to jobs@bluebell.com. They will then alert former employees of any opportunities in the area.

Blue Bell Creameries CEO and President Paul Kruse called the decision agonizing. In a video statement, Kruse said the following:

"The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell's CEO and President. At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally."

You can watch Kruse's full video statement, here.

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