Surprise Koffee Kup Buyer Emerges, Won't Reopen Bakeries | Off Message

Surprise Koffee Kup Buyer Emerges, Won't Reopen Bakeries


Koffee Kup in Burlington - MATTHEW ROY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Matthew Roy ©️ Seven Days
  • Koffee Kup in Burlington
Flowers Foods, a publicly traded Georgia-based company that makes Wonder Bread and other well-known brands, stepped in as the last-minute buyer of Koffee Kup Bakery’s assets on Monday.

That's bad news for those who hoped that Koffee Kup's bakeries in Burlington and Brattleboro, which closed abruptly in April, would reopen soon.

"This acquisition brings brands and production capacity in the Northeast, a key growth market for our company," said Ryals McMullian, president and CEO of Flowers Foods. "We have no immediate plans to reopen the bakeries but will be assessing how they may fit our strategic network optimization efforts in the future."

The last-minute change, noted during a remote hearing in Chittenden Superior Court, surprised the previously announced buyer, Blair Hyslop of Mrs. Dunster’s, a Canadian company. Mrs. Dunster's had already started creating new employment contracts with former Koffee Kup workers.

Hyslop said he was planning a Zoom town meeting with employees from both Vermont locations for Monday night. “For now, I will just say that this has come out of left field, and we are shocked and dismayed at the news,” he said.

The struggling 80-year-old Koffee Kup closed its plants in Vermont and Connecticut in April, displacing 500 workers. They included 156 in Burlington and 91 in Brattleboro. Its owners had negotiated unsuccessfully with  KeyBank to resolve the company's debt.

Koffee Kup had been delivering bread, buns, English muffins and doughnuts to more than 4,500 places in the Northeast before it closed, according to a private equity firm called American Industrial Acquisition Corporation, which had acquired Koffee Kup on April 1.

The Flowers Foods announcement was made during a hearing in Chittenden Superior Court regarding the accrued paid time off that some employees lost when the bakery closed, according to the Brattleboro Reformer, which broke the story. A lawyer for the court-appointed receiver said Flowers Foods had purchased the company and would cover the money owed to employees, the Reformer said. 

Among the creditors is the Vermont Economic Development Authority, which is out a little over half of a $477,254 loan it made to Koffee Kup.

Koffee Kup's holdings include the Vermont Bread company in Brattleboro. Adam Grinold, the executive director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, had said he was mainly concerned that the facility remain productive.

“The recently announced sale to Flowers Foods was a surprise to all,” he said Monday.

Flowers Foods, a publicly traded company,  says on its website that it had sales of $4.4 billion in fiscal 2020. It said it has 46 bakeries that concoct frozen bakery items, fresh breads, snack cakes and tortillas for more than 85 percent of the U.S. population.