Westlake Village-based Dole Food continued to downsize its California berry operations with a layoff of more than 400 workers in Watsonville.
The company submitted a notice to the California Employment Development Department at the end of August stating that the employees would be laid off effective Oct. 28. This comes after the announcement that 172 workers at its Oxnard berry operations would be laid off effective Oct. 6, as well as 30 employees at a Northern California subsidiary.
Owner David Murdock filed to take the company public for the third time in April, and the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is simultaneously exploring options for a sale to private equity investors, valuing the deal at around $2 billion.
Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed that Dole had plans to sell its Westlake Village headquarters to its affiliate Castle & Cook as part of a 1031 exchange for the Dole Hawaii Plantation Store from its affiliate Castle & Cooke Properties. It had 600 employees in the Tri-Counties in 2016, according to Pacific Coast Business Times research.
The company retains a divisional office in Salinas and leases offices and facilities in Monterey and Watsonville, in addition to around 19,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico. The public offering prospectus also disclosed a $23 million loss last year, and revenues of $4.5 billion. It also stated cost-savings strategies that include the divestiture of 14,800 acres of idle land in Hawaii.
Dole could not be reached for comment.
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