U.S.: Chiquita shuts up shop in Charlotte

January 14 , 2015

Chiquita Brands vowed in March that it would keep its headquarters in Charlotte, but that has changed under the new ownership of Cutrale-Safra.

Photo: Alexandro 900, via Fotolia.

Photo: Alexandro 900, via Fotolia.

Earlier today, the company’s interim CEO Brian Kocher sent a letter to staff announcing the company would be exiting its headquarters in the city’s NASCAR Plaza Tower, which is home to 320 Chiquita employees.

“We now embark on Chiquita’s next chapter. We wish to inform you of changes at the Company that will result from our transition towards a more simplified and streamlined business model appropriate for the competitive markets we serve, and from a publicly listed company to a private enterprise,” Kocher said.

“As communicated last week, we plan to organize the core businesses around three separate and distinct business units: Chiquita bananas and pineapples, Fresh Express salads and snacks, and Chiquita Fruit Solutions (our banana puree and pineapple juice business).

“Additionally, as a private company there will be certain corporate services that are no longer necessary to support a publicly listed company.”

He said the decision had been made to transition all operational departments and remaining corporate services to be closer to customers and operations over the next 12-18 months.

“This will improve business efficiency and decision making to prepare the springboard for our growth as three focussed business units,” Kocher said.

“Over the next 90 days, your managers will share with you more information about the implications of this transition. We admire and appreciate all that you have contributed to Chiquita and thank you for your support as we shape a bright future for this great company.”

A member of Chiquita’s communication’s staff told the Charlotte Business Journal her job at the company would end in two weeks.

In other news relating to Chiquita, attorneys representing thousands of Colombians have requested the U.S. Supreme Court review a decision that dismissed a case alleging the company made payments to paramilitaries in Colombia.

Prior to the acquisition of Chiquita, questions were also raised from NGO Banana Link and the Latin American Banana Worker Syndicate Coordinator (COLSIBA) about how the multinational’s corporate social responsibility policy would be affected by the transaction.

The groups drew attention to the fact Cutrale had been convicted by Brazilian courts for illegal outsourcing, had been fined for discriminating against pregnant women, and was charged with having poor conditions in worker housing; all cases that have occurred within the last two years.

Chiquita and Cutrale-Safra have not responded to requests for comments on the Colombian case or its corporate social responsibility policy under the new ownership.


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