Keurig in Waterbury

Keurig Green Mountain is laying off 40 workers in Vermont, and about 130 overall, as it tries to rebound from the flop of its Keurig Kold beverage system.

Katie Gilroy, a company communications manager, says the laid-off employees were offered severance benefits and will be supported as they seek new jobs.

The company says the layoffs stem from a realignment of its priorities, and it plans to hire employees for new ventures in coming months.

In May 2016, the company replaced its CEO, bringing in Robert J. Gamgort, considered a whiz in the food industry. Gamgort came to Keurig from Pinnacle Foods, where he spent seven years as CEO, increasing the value of the company over five times during his tenure.  

The company had grown rapidly in prior years, reaching gross revenues of $4.5 billion, fueled by the explosive growth of the Keurig single-cup coffee brewing system.

However, as that market matured, Keurig began looking for new lines of business, and focused for a time on a brewing system for cold beverages. The Keurig Kold product never really caught on, and critics said the company’s leadership had badly misread the marketplace.

The company also had to pay a $5.8 million fine — the second-largest ever levied by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission — for failing to deal effectively with a defect in its Keurig Mini Plus Brewing Systems Between 2010 and 2014, Keurig received about 200 reports of hot water, coffee and coffee grounds spraying out of the brewers, and more than 100 people suffered burns — some of them severe — on their faces, hands and bodies. In addition to the penalty, Keurig pledged to develop a detailed program to ensure the company complies with the Consumer Product Safety Act in the future.

A year ago this month, Keurig Green Mountain laid off 108 Vermont workers; it laid off 200 in August 2015, at a time when it had about 6,000 employees in all. It has four locations in the state: Essex, Williston, South Burlington and its headquarters in Waterbury.

Lindsay Kurrle, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, said this month’s layoffs affect workers in Essex Junction, Waterbury and South Burlington. She said all of them hold administrative jobs and are not hourly workers.

Companies must report layoffs of 50 people or more.

“We will absolutely be working with them to provide rapid response to those people who don’t have a place to go,” Kurrle said.

A Keurig statement said: “This action balances our operational needs across the organization, allowing us to reinvest in our brands and business in ways that will benefit our consumers and support our strategic growth objectives.”

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