* First plant to close under plan to boost earnings
* Closure costs to total C$17 mln (Adds details)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Maple Leaf Foods MFI.TO, one of Canada’s leading food processors, said on Wednesday that it will close its pork plant in Berwick, Nova Scotia, at the end of April.
The plant closure is the first since Maple Leaf announced in October that it plans to boost earnings by closing some plants and spending heavily to modernize others. [ID:nN06187572]
“Our industry is under mounting competitive pressure to become more efficient, and this means we have to make very difficult decisions,” Michael McCain, Maple Leaf’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
The company expects closure costs, including severance, decommissioning and asset writedowns to total C$17 million ($16.7 million) before tax.
The 200,000-square-foot plant, which employs 280 people, makes bacon, ham, sliced meats, sausage and deli products, mainly under the Larsen and private label brands.
The company will gradually wind down operations starting in February and consolidate production at plants in New Brunswick and Ontario.
Maple Leaf said it will continue to make products under the Larsen brand and meet customer requirements in Atlantic Canada.
The company announced the move after the Toronto Stock Exchange closed. Since Maple Leaf unveiled its plan to boost earnings, its shares have fallen about 1 percent.
$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Rob Wilson