House of Raeford to close turkey cook plant

Posted October 10, 2014 12:06 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2014 3:21 p.m. EDT

— House of Raeford announced Friday that it will close its 400-employee turkey cook plant in Raeford within the next 60 days.

The closing had been anticipated since March 2013, when the company announced it would scale back turkey production because of declining consumer demand.

The company shuttered its turkey slaughter plant in Raeford and its turkey hatchery in Rose Hill last year, however, closing the cook plant was not part of the initial strategy.

House of Raeford plans to focus on fresh and cooked chicken.

“We’re experiencing significant growth in chicken production and further processing,” President and CEO Bob Johnson said in a statement. “We believe vertically integrated chicken production is our core competency and deserves 100 percent of our attention and resources.”

In the past 18 months, House of Raeford has purchased two chicken plants. The first plant in Mocksville opened in April and plans to employ 400 people. The company also acquired Filet of Chicken, a 450-employee plant in Atlanta.

The company said the employees at the turkey cook plant were given notice Friday about the pending closure, and those with minimum tenure will receive severance packages.

“We are grateful to the employees who have worked in our Raeford operation for their loyalty and dedication. We are committed to helping each of them during this transition,” Johnson said.

State Rep. Ken Goodman, a Democrat who represents Hoke County, said he was saddened to hear about the closing and offered to help displaced employees "in any way possible."

"I am very upset for the people of Hoke County today," Goodman said in a statement. "The closing of the House of Raeford and the loss of these jobs is a major blow economically for this part of state."

Nearly 1,500 employees have been laid off in the North Carolina closings.

The closing will not affect the remaining 5,300 House of Raeford employees, of which 1,800 are employed in North Carolina.