Canadian company to purchase Koffee Kup Bakery, Vermont Bread Company
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A Canadian company has announced its intentions to buy Vermont’s Koffee Kup Bakery, which closed suddenly last month due to financial problems.
Mrs. Dunster’s Bakery, based out of New Brunswick, Canada, on Thursday said they will purchase all the assets of the Koffee Kup Bakery, including the Vermont Bread Company out of Brattleboro.
According to a press release, the owners have formed a new company called the North Atlantic Baking Company and they plan to restart operations in the near future. The plan is to continue to market the same baked goods that made the company a household name throughout New England under the Koffee Kup and Vermont Bread Company Brands.
Blair Hyslop, a co-owner of Mrs. Dunster’s, says they want to take back as many employees as possible but they won’t be able to hire everyone back on the first day, so they’re currently working out a process. “Certainly anybody who’s worked for Koffee Kup or Vermont Bread and is aligned with our values as a family-owned and operated business is going to have an opportunity to work here,” Hyslop said.
As for the hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of PTO that employees say they lost, Mrs. Dunster’s says it’s legally out of their hands. Hyslop says the lawsuits are against Koffee Kup-- not Mrs. Dunster’s-- therefore, it’s legally not their matter to resolve. “We’re not really in a position to comment on that,” he said.
Hyslop says he empathizes with employees who are fighting for their money but he wants to focus on the future, not the past.
But some former workers like Gary Pasquale, who spoke with WCAX when Koffee Kup first closed a few weeks ago, aren’t ready to move forward with the company. “I don’t know. I would have to be convinced severely to go back. It would take a lot of motivation,” Pasquale said.
He says before he commits, he wants some reassurance of job security. “They may shut down unexpectedly. No warning,” he said. “You go to work and you’re told ‘Oh, come back tomorrow and that night on the news, they announced they were closed. That’s kind of a grimy move in my eyes. They knew what was going on and didn’t let anybody know.”
Hyslop says about 100 former employees have indicated their interest in working for Mrs. Dunster’s. But to those who are hesitant, he says this family-owned business will do things differently. “We’re not driven by the things that motivate private equity folks or larger corporations. We put a lot of emphasis on our values and our culture and our purposes of business to deliver fresh baked goods to consumers and so it’s going to feel a lot different than it has in a long time and it’s going back to its roots as a family-owned and operated business,” he said.
One employee sent WCAX the “Welcome” email that the team at Mrs. Dunster’s sent to former Koffee Kup employees. The email included an invitation from the Hyslops to attend a virtual gathering on Friday to go over the company’s purpose, values, and work culture.
Economic development officials say the deal is great news for the region. “The alternative could have been that a company would just come in and liquidate the equipment and sell the assets as a real estate investment, and what we are most excited about is the commitment by all the different parties to really seek out people who are looking to be operators and it looks like that is where we are headed,” said Adam Grinold with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation.
The sale price has not been disclosed. The North Atlantic Baking company is actively negotiating a leasing agreement while the sale goes through. Mrs. Dunster’s Bakery already delivers fresh baked goods throughout Canada and Maine. The purchase will expand the company’s reach across New England along with keeping well-known Vermont brands on the shelves. They do plan to sell a Connecticut plant owned by Koffee Kup.
The two-year goal is to bring back upwards of 180 employees to the two Vermont plants. The company has applied for and received a Vermont Employment Growth Initiative grant from the Vermont Economic Progress Council.
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