THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Wednesday, May 24, 1995 TAG: 9505240523 SECTION: BUSINESS PAGE: D2 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS LENGTH: Short : 40 lines
The Smithfield Cos. plan to sell its biggest business, the Bedford-based Bunker Hill Foods' canned-meat company, to Castleberry/Snow's Brands Inc. for $12.9 million.
Bunker Hill employs about 150 people in Bedford County. Its main labels include Bunker Hill, James River and Morton House.
Mark D. Bedard, Smithfield's chief financial officer, said the planned sale shouldn't affect employees at Bunker Hill. He said Smithfield hopes to complete the sale to Georgia-based Castleberry in June.
``We've been saying we are looking to grow more in specialty foods,'' Bedard said. ``The canned meat market is sort of stagnant.''
Bedard's Portsmouth-based company owns two of the four smokehouses authorized to make Smithfield hams, while its Williamsburg Foods business, a fancy-peanut company, has been posting double-growth in recent years.
But the company's bread and butter has been its canned goods. ``That's where all the revenues are,'' said George Shipp, a stock market analyst with Scott and Stringfellow Inc. in Norfolk.
Shipp was surprised by the move but said he believes Smithfield was eager to get into higher-margin products.
The Bunker Hill labels are regional rather than national and tend to rank second or third in sales after one or another big national brands for most supermarkets, Shipp said.
``It's the kind of brand that Food Lion uses to keep the big guys honest,'' Shipp said.
Smithfield is not affiliated with Smithfield Foods Inc., the large Isle of Wight County pork packer. by CNB