Pease's (Springfield ILL) to drop most local candy production

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2012/06/10 01:23:49

Pease's to drop most local candy production Pease's,is moving most of its candy production to St. Louis after more than 80 years in Springfield. The decision wasn’t easy, owner Rob Flesher said this week. Merging production was a matter of economics for both Pease’s and the Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co. of St. Louis, another family-owned business that will make the fine chocolates, nuts, caramels, popcorns and mints that are among the staples for both companies, Flesher said.
About 75 percent of local production, including that now done at the main Pease’s main candy-making facility on the south side of Springfield, will move to St. Louis by late summer, he said. Four of or five of Pease’s 10 production workers are expected to be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.
 
“Our business is so seasonal, we lay them off in the summer anyway,” Flesher said. “This year, some won’t be called back in the fall.” Pease’s three retail outlets in Springfield — and the signature pink Pease’s box — will continue as is under the deal, he said.
 
Remaining local production will move to a smaller candy kitchen in Pease’s retail store at Sixth and Washington streets.
“Nothing is going to change other than the location where the product is made,” said Flesher. “It’s going to look the same, it’s going to taste the same, it’s going to have the same ingredients and the same focus on quality.
“I believe six months from now, when a customer walks into a store and opens up a box of candy, they’re not going to notice a difference,” he said.
 
Flesher and his wife, Kim, have formed a new company, Pease’s Candy Inc., to oversee the retail business.
 
Candy and the economy
Flesher said a combination of the recession and high gasoline prices has cut into sales the last few years, though he said there has been improvement this year. A series of increases in the state minimum wage, to $8.25 an hour, also hurt the service business, he said.
 
“The candy industry as a whole got hit pretty hard,” said Flesher. “When you’re paying four dollars a gallon for gas, you still have to have gas, and you have to make house payments. You don’t have to have candy.”
Pease’s closed its store in Sangamon Center North a little more than a year ago, also as a result of the economy and slow sales.
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