News: Bear Naked on the Road
On the heels of its November 1 acquisition of the five-year-old granola and cereal maker, Kellogg Co. said it plans to close the Bear Naked Inc. headquarters at 1 Selleck St. in Norwalk and a bakery/warehouse in Stamford next year.
Kellogg expects to fold the Bear Naked headquarters into its La Jolla, Calif.-based Kashi Co. natural foods subsidiary in about six months, Kellogg spokeswoman Kris Charles said Tuesday. The Bear Naked headquarters employed 40 people as of late September.
"Norwalk will be sad to see Bear Naked go. But we are encouraged by what wonderful success has come to the company since moving to our city," said Tad Diesel, Norwalk's director of marketing and business development.
Bear Naked relocated its headquarters from Darien to Norwalk last year.
The pending shutdowns would follow Kellogg's combined $122 million purchase of Bear Naked and a California veggie burger company. It is unknown how many Bear Naked staff members will remain with Kashi.
"We are in the process of reviewing the organizational structure," Charles said. Laid-off workers will get severance pay and help finding new jobs, she said. The Stamford bakery employs about 60 people.
"We will continue to operate it for six months to a year; then we will be looking for other solutions long-term," Charles said of the bakery and warehouse on Halloween Boulevard.
Michael Freimuth, Stamford's economic development director, said the city will miss the now-scarce manufacturing jobs Bear Naked provides.
"It is disturbing that the niche that Bear Naked has developed is being lost to another large corporate out-of-state presence," Freimuth said. "We hope these folks can find opportunities in other industries, especially since our unemployment numbers are tight."
Kashi has not chosen a new place to make Bear Naked products, which include several varieties of granola, oatmeal and snacks, Charles said. Along with the companys bakery, contract manufacturers around the country also produce Bear Naked items.
"We will continue to call it Bear Naked and we will continue to use high-quality ingredients," Charles said.
Kashi makes Golean and Kashi Mighty Bites cold cereals, oatmeal, waffles, granola bars, crackers frozen entrees and other products.
The future of Bear Naked founders Brendan Synnott and Kelly Flatley is uncertain. At the start, they mixed their granola at Rowayton Market at night while they searched for local grocers to sell it by day.
"Kelly and Brendan are serving as consultants to the business during the transition," Charles said. "Over the next few months, we will be working on a mutual decision on a future role for them."
Flatley and Synnott could not be reached Tuesday. A recorded message at Bear Naked's main phone number said the Norwalk headquarters is closed but will reopen Monday.
From the December 3, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash