Twinkies maker Hostess plans to go out of business

IRVING, Texas, Fri Nov 16, 2012 – Hostess Brands Inc., the bankrupt maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, said it had sought court permission to go out of business after failing to get wage and benefit cuts from thousands of its striking bakery workers.

Hostess, which has about $2.5 billion in sales from a long list of iconic consumer brands of snack cakes and breads, said it had suspended operations at all of its 33 plants around the United States as it moves to start liquidating assets.

“We’ll be selling the brands and as much of the infrastructure as we can,” said company spokesman Lance Ignon. “There is value in the brands.”

Hostess said a strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union that began last week had crippled its ability to produce and deliver products at several facilities, and it had no choice but to give up its effort to emerge intact from bankruptcy court.

The Irving, Texas-based company said the liquidation would mean that most of its 18,500 employees would lose their jobs.

Hostess had given employee a deadline to return to work on Thursday, but the union held firm, saying it had already given far more in concessions than workers could bear and that it would not bend further. Union officials blamed mismanagement for the company’s woes.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy in January for the second time since 2004, said it had filed a motion with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, for permission to shut down and sell assets.

Hostess has 565 distribution centers and 570 bakery outlet stores, as well as the 33 bakeries. Its brands include Wonder, Nature’s Pride, Dolly Madison, Drake’s, Butternut, Home Pride and Merita, but it is probably best known for Twinkies – basically a cream-filled sponge cake.

“We do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” CEO Gregory Rayburn said in a statement. “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.”