Vera Bradley to cut 150 employees at New Haven plant

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WANE) Vera Bradley will eliminate 150 second shift employees at its manufacturing plant by November 1.

According to Melissa Schenkel, Public Relations Manager for Vera Bradley, it’s an effort to reduce its manufacturing capacity at the Adams Center Road location by about 25 percent, in order to save on domestic costs.

Schenkel stated that the company produces about seven percent of its products at the Adams Center Road facility in New Haven. She said although it takes pride in producing a portion of their inventory in the U.S., it costs substantially more to manufacture goods domestically than in overseas factories, and domestic manufacturing costs have continued to increase. Leaders have made several process improvements at the facility to lower costs, but determined further actions were necessary.

By November 1, the New Haven plant will eliminate its second shift and move to just one daytime shift. There are currently approximately 360 full-time employees in the Adams Center Road facility, with aabout 150 of those working on the second shift. Company officials predict that some of those second shift employees might be able to move to first shift open positions and others may be able to transfer to the Stonebridge distribution facility in Roanoke. Between the two locations, there are about 100 open positions.

NewsChannel 15 spoke to Nelson Peters, Allen County Commissioner about the local impact.

“We work so hard to try and attract jobs in this community and then you hear that there’s the potential for 150 jobs to be going elsewhere, that’s really not what you want to hear,” said Peters.

However, Peters said Fort Wayne has seen many more jobs come here than leave lately. He acknowledges that the Fort Wayne, Allen County branded company has to make smart decisions for its future.

“It’s really hard to compete sometimes with some of the wages that are being paid elsewhere,” said Peters.

Schenkel stated Wednesday that the company’s first priority is its employees affected. The company will work with each individually. It’s also offering a separation package to employees who voluntarily leave Vera Bradley.  The terms of the package were not disclosed. At this point, it’s unclear how many employees are interested in taking this package.

New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald reacted to the news in a statement released to media on Wednesday:

The elimination of any jobs is of great concern and we will work with our partners at Northeast Indiana Works and the WorkOne Northeast Center to assist affected individuals. The City and Vera Bradley are keeping our lines of communication open. We are encouraged that some employees will be offered positions within the company and on the first shift of the manufacturing plant.

The City of New Haven is proud to have Vera Bradley’s manufacturing facility in our community and we look forward to our continued relationship with the company. Vera Bradley has been a great source of pride in our region and we believe they will continue to grow and offer employment opportunities in the future.

Schenkel said that the company will continue to work to become more efficient at the Adams Center Road facility in order to make local manufacturing more cost effective and it will remain committed to its hometown of Fort Wayne and Indiana.

Vera Bradley has four facilities across Northeast Indiana, including a design center and distribution center both in Roanoke, offices in Fort Wayne and the manufacturing center in New Haven.






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