Russell Stover bear

The Russell Stover bear is pictured outside the Abilene Russell Stover facility which makes handcrafting confections. Russell Stover Chocolates announced expansion Monday.

While future plans have not been announced, Russell Stover Chocolates reported it will expand facilities and add jobs at its Abilene plant.

“Following a strong fiscal year 2019, Russell Stover plans to expand facilities in Corsicana, TX, and Abilene and Iola, KS, aiming to add approximately 300 jobs in total in these three locations,” said a release sent on Monday.

The company announced it would be closing the Montrose, CO., location in the spring of 2021. Russell Stover will also be closing select low-traffic stores over the course of the next year cutting 400 jobs.

It is estimated that, locally, Russell Stover has over 500 employees.

Expansion and employee details were not available.

Chuck Scott, director of the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation, said there have been discussions in the past of Russell Stover expanding.

“Any expansion of a company that we have had out there in the press is good for the community and the area as a whole,” he said. “It means there is some acknowledgement of the employment base that we have, the work ethic, the amount of work and kind of work that can be done. I think that is a great thing for a rural community for people to recognize.”

He said the community must have the work force and support those employees with training and other services in the way of child care and housing.

“We need to be there ready to help them and we have been,” he said.

DCEDC will be willing to work with Russell Stover, he said.

“Having been in business since 1923, we know the importance of keeping pace with the changing tastes and preferences of the people who buy our chocolates,” said Andy Deister, Russell Stover CEO. “Just as consumers change their preferred flavor or package, they’re changing the way they shop for our products, and we’re making sure we have the infrastructure to deliver on their expectations.”

The consolidation process with the Lindt & Sprüngli North American (LSNA) logistics operation which began in 2018, will continue as scheduled, the release said. This will result in the closure of the Cookeville, TN, and Butler, MO, distribution and fulfillment centers later this year, and the transfer of the Cookeville Fulfillment Center to the Russell Stover Plant in Corsicana, TX.

Approximately 400 positions are affected by these changes across the country.

“A number which will be substantially offset by planned additions of approximately 300 positions at the expanded facilities in Kansas and Texas,” the release said.

“During this transition, we are committed to providing employee support, including giving significant advance notice of all facility closures, offering additional opportunities within Russell Stover, as well as providing severance, continued health care coverage and other benefits for those working through the close date.”

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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