The value-store chain Family Dollar announced on Wednesday that it was closing an Arkansas warehouse where the discovery of a rodent infestation earlier this year forced the company to recall potentially contaminated items and temporarily close more than 400 stores.
Randy Guiler, vice president of investor relations for Dollar Tree Inc., the parent company of Family Dollar, confirmed in an email that the distribution facility in West Memphis, Ark., would stop shipping to stores before the end of June. Mr. Guiler said approximately 300 workers would be affected.
“We are committed to treating impacted associates fairly and respectfully,” he said, “and we are doing everything we can to support them with their transitions, including providing severance plans to those who are eligible, as well as offering outplacement services and employee assistance programs.”
The company decided that the facility was not adequate to “continue serving the needs and requirements of our stores and customers,” Mr. Guiler said.
He said the closure was not related to a Food and Drug Administration inspection of the facility in January, which found live and dead rodents “in various states of decay” and products stored in a way that did not protect against these unsanitary conditions.
The F.D.A. said a review of company records indicated the collection of more than 2,300 rodents from late March to September 2021, “demonstrating a history of infestation.”
In response to the report, Family Dollar temporarily closed 404 stores in six states to conduct a voluntary recall of food, cosmetics and other products that were stored at the Arkansas facility from early 2021 to February.
The Arkansas state attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar in April, saying that the company willfully neglected to properly care for the facility and that it misled consumers about the potentially contaminated products.
The suit said that the conditions at the West Memphis distribution center were part of a “troubling pattern” of rodent infestations at Family Dollar stores across the country.
Ms. Rutledge said in an email on Thursday that the closure of the facility did not address the underlying problem of how Family Dollar conducts business.
“Family Dollar is punishing hundreds of hardworking Arkansas families instead of cleaning up the company’s own, illegal business practices that put their employees and consumers at risk,” she said.
West Memphis’s mayor, Marco McClendon, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the city would work with the state to help workers affected by the closure.
“It’s frustrating that over a 30-year relationship with them being here in the city of West Memphis, and this community being a good partner here in the city of West Memphis, that we will be losing that industry,” Mr. McClendon said, “but the people is what I’m most concerned about.”
Source: NY Times