WBFO News
9:23 am
Wed January 21, 2004

Management Group Buys Buffalo China

Buffalo, NY – Oneida Ltd. agreed Tuesday to sell some assets of its Buffalo China dinnerware factory to a Buffalo group for $5.5 million cash.

The company previously announced in October that it was closing the 100-year-old Buffalo China plant and four other overseas factories in response to slumping sales and escalating manufacturing costs.

The sale to BC Acquisition Company LLC includes the factory buildings and equipment, materials and supplies, said Oneida Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter J. Kallet.

The Buffalo China name and all other trademarks and logos will remain the property of Oneida, Kallet said.

The transaction does not include the Buffalo China warehouse in Buffalo, Kallet said. Oneida Ltd. is continuing to explore its options for that location.

Kallet said he expected the transaction to be completed during Oneida's 2004 first fiscal quarter.

Under the proposed transaction, BC Acquisition Company plans to operate the Buffalo factory as an independent supplier to the dinnerware industry, including Oneida. The company will be headed by Robert L. Lupica, who has been Oneida's Senior Vice President and General Manager for Buffalo Operations.

Oneida spokesman Dave Gymburch said it would be up to BC Acquisition to decide how many of the 350 employees at the plant would be retained after the sale is completed.

"Our goal is to continue a smooth flow of dinnerware products to Oneida. We are committed to improving the factory so it can remain as a fixture in Buffalo," Lupica said in a statement.

Oneida Ltd. will continue operating the Buffalo site through the completion of the sale. The other four locations _ a dinnerware factory in Juarez, Mexico; flatware factory in Toluca, Mexico; holloware factory in Shanghai, China; holloware factory in Vercelli, Italy, are scheduled to close as planned within the next few weeks, Kallet said. Those facilities' assets are being sold.

Oneida Ltd., the world's largest maker and distributor of flatware and tableware, reported a third quarter loss in December of $74.8 million, more than half of it related to the closing of the five factories.