As the clock ticked down on the Hostess Brands Inc. bankruptcy, its products, especially the Twinkies and Cupcakes, have begun flying off the shelves at many Stater Bros. stores.
Jack Brown, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer of Stater Bros. Markets, who had been in contact with several stores, had been told activity on Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes had increased dramatically since the bankruptcy announcement.
“We will probably be out of Hostess products by this weekend,” Brown said late Friday during a phone interview. Stater Bros. is based in San Bernardino and is Southern California’s largest privately owned Supermarket Chain, as well as Southern California’s only locally owned Supermarket Chain, according to it's website.
Early Friday, Hostess Brands Inc. announced that it was “winding down operations” and had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities, according to a news release.
Operations at all plants had been suspended, though “delivery of products will continue and Hostess Brands retail stores will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products,” officials said.
For Brown and dozens of Stater Bros. customers, this means a loss of a product that is so deeply connected with childhood. The store will try to fill the gap.
“We’ll be replacing the (Hostess) product with another product sometime next week,” Brown said.
Hostess officials say a worker strike has forced them shut down operations. On Nov. 12, Hostess Brands permanently closed three plants as a result of the work stoppage. On Nov. 14, the company announced it would be forced to liquidate if a sufficient number of employees did not return to work by Nov. 15 to restore normal operations.
The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union rejected a “last, best and final offer from Hostess Brands designed to lower costs so that the Company could attract new financing and emerge from Chapter 11,” according to the Hostess Brands Inc. news release.
“I think the real issue here is bigger than Twinkies,” Brown said. “The issue is that 18,000 people will lose their jobs. If we can send a space ship to the moon, we should be able to solve this issue.”
Brown said the job loss could affect as many as 80,000 people, including spouses, children or other who may be dependent on the thousands of workers now facing the loss of their job.
Brown said he was not taking sides and held out hope that something could worked out, but only the weekend remained for resolution, he said.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”