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Archive for Sunday, August 24, 2003

Warehouse closure leaves 150 jobless

Era at an end for Fleming Cos.

August 24, 2003

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— About 150 people lost their jobs Friday when Fleming Cos. closed its merchandise division warehouse in Topeka, where the once-booming grocery distributor got its start in 1915.

Fleming filed for bankruptcy protection in April after cutting ties with its largest customer, Kmart Corp., which had fallen $78 million behind in paying its bills.

Earlier this month, C&S Wholesale Grocery of Brattleboro, Vt., received approval from a bankruptcy judge in Delaware to buy Fleming's wholesale grocery business for $400 million.

C&S sold the contents and equipment in the Topeka warehouse to Associated Wholesale Grocers, of Kansas City, Kan., which chose not to keep the warehouse open.

Bryan Smith, controller and human resources director at the warehouse, said about 120 people worked in the Topeka warehouse and about 30 sales people worked in the region, which included Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.

Fleming got its start in Topeka in 1915 when O.A. Fleming and two partners founded the Lux Mercantile Co. Three years later it was called the Fleming-Wilson Mercantile Co. In 1941, the company expanded into Oklahoma City, where it was based for many years, and changed its name again.

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