Augusta Castleberry's plant to close

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The Castleberry's brand has been sold, but not the plant.

Castleberry's Food Co. owner Connor Bros. Income Fund announced at 5 p.m. today that it has sold off its chili product line to a New Jersey firm.

The Augusta plant, however, was not part of the sale and will close in 60 days, the company announced.

Toronto-based Connor Bros. began investigating a sale of its meat division following a botulism recall in the summer of 2007, which cost the company $38 million and shuttered the Augusta plant for two months.

"Following a strategic review of the meats business, we recognized that these products did not align with the core competencies of the company and were inconsistent with the rest of our portfolio," said Chris Lischewski, the fund's president and chief executive officer. "Selling this business and, consequently, having to close the factory was a difficult decision to make particularly as the employees in Augusta have worked very hard over the past year."

Mr. Lischewski said the fund will assist Augusta workers with outplacement services, as well as offer a severance package.

The plant on 15th Street is still being shopped for a buyer, Mr. Lischewski said.

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