The new Ukrainian owners of the North Carolina operations of chicken processor Townsends informed Siler City officials Thursday that they plan to close all the company’s facilities in the state by Oct. 1.
The move, which would put roughly 1,200 people in Mocksville and Siler City out of work and terminate contracts with hundreds of chicken farmers, comes just five months after a Ukrainian billionaire, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, paid $24.9 million to buy Townsends North Carolina assets out of bankruptcy.
As recently as March, an executive of Omtron, the U.S. shell corporation created by Bakhmatyuk, expressed optimism that the company could turn the operations around through cost-cutting and by ramping up exports of dark meat.
David Purtle, Omtron’s CEO and a former Tyson Foods executive, said this morning that Bakhmatyuk decided that he didn’t see a long-term future in the business.
“He just decided to shut it down and take his losses and go on,” Purtle said. “He just didn’t like the environment in this country and the lack of discipline that the poultry industry had.”