Woodchuck hard cider maker lays off 4 percent

MIDDLEBURY — A year after opening its new 100,000-square-foot cidery at 1321 Exchange St. in Middlebury the Vermont Hard Cider Company LLC (VHC) is announcing layoffs affecting eight workers in its marketing and administration departments.
Company officials said the layoffs, confirmed on Monday, are part of a “restructuring” move that comes in wake of increased competition from mega breweries that have branched out into the cider making business. Established in 1991, VHC makes the very popular Woodchuck brand hard cider. The company is the world’s second-largest manufacturer of hard cider.
“The cider category has seen exponential growth in both volume and number of companies joining the category,” VHC Communications Manager Caitlin Stroupe explained through an email. “As we were the category leaders, the mega breweries focused on us and our distribution. While we have seen growth in many states, like our home state of Vermont, we did decline last year as well as this year on a national level. This restructuring is more about getting back to our roots and staying focused on sampling and selling in the trade. The craft cider category remains strong and we continue to get our message out with one-on-one interactions with our fans, the same way we grew Woodchuck to where it is today.”
No additional layoffs are planned, according to Stroupe. The eight affected jobs were eliminated out of a company-wide total of 167, a number that includes full- and part-time positions, she added.
“The positions affected were both entry-level and mid-level.,” Stroupe said.
It was in October of 2012 that the Irish Beverage Company C&C Group announced the purchase of VHC for $305 million. Stroupe said the layoffs are not being driven by the parent company.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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