A press release issued Thursday by St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings Inc, the corporate parent of the Energizer battery production plant in Maryville, stated that the local factory is to close, reportedly by the end of next year.
According to the release, Energizer Holdings' board of directors has authorized a company-wide restructuring plan, which is designed to save the corporation about $200 million annually.
In it's official statement, the company said three quarters of the savings will go toward improving profitability with the rest earmarked to "drive long-term growth."
Besides 310 full-time employees at the Maryville facility, the operation also provides jobs to between 150 and 200 contract workers. Across the entire corporation, the cutbacks will mean the loss of 1,500 jobs, or about 10 percent of Energizer's global workforce.
Maryville Plant Manager Hugh Belgarde said late Thursday afternoon he was still trying to notify factory employees who declined to attend meetings announcing the closing held prior to their regular shifts.
Belgarde declined to comment further about the shut-down, saying that his first priority was to make sure all workers had been informed about the decision.
"Right now, we're just trying to get them the information and answer their questions," he said.
Besides Maryville, Energizer Holdings says it will close down plants in St. Albans, Vt., and Tampoi, Malaysia. "Streamlining" is to take place at facilities in Asheboro, N.C.; Walkerton, Canada; and China.
Most of the cutbacks are directed at Energizer's Household Products Division.
Energizer's fourth-quarter report, released Tuesday, showed $117 million in earnings, up from $45 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Net sales in its Household Products Division dropped 6.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 due to what was described as a weak household battery market.
It was just over a year ago that the Energizer plant in Maryville celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Construction of the 500,000 square-foot manufacturing facility on an 80-acre campus on the east edge of Maryville began in Nov. 1969 and ended in the summer of 1971.
That fall a single line began producing "C" batteries. Subsequent additions led to a product line-up embracing a number of battery sizes, including AA, 9-volt and AAAA.
According information released by the company last year, Union Carbide, the factory's original owner, conducted an extensive study in the mid-1960s that revealed a need for a new alkaline battery plant somewhere in the Midwest.
More than 175 communities in ten states were considered before the decision was made to come to Maryville.
Over the past several years, ownership of the factory has passed through two subsequent corporate parents. The Ralston Purina Co. acquired the facility in 1986 under its Eveready brand, then spun the subsidiary off in 2000, when the name changed from Eveready Battery Co. to Energizer Holdings Inc.
Page 2 of 2 - In 2011, the plant was Energizer's second-largest alkaline battery operation.
Since 1971, it has provided jobs for a total of nearly 1,500 employees.