While approval of the bankruptcy court is needed before Hostess can start selling its assets in liquidation, the company said production at all of its bakeries stopped effective Friday, and that stores will no longer receive products from Hostess Brands after the final round of deliveries of products that were made Thursday night.
But products that are already in stores can be sold, and the outlet stores will remain open for about a week to sell the products they already have.
Hostess had annual sales of about $2.5 billion. The company said it had been making 500 million Twinkies and 127 million loaves of Wonder Bread annually before Friday's shutdown.
Its bread brands, including Wonder Bread, Nature's Pride and Butternut, make the company the No. 2 bread baker in the country, according to Symphony/IRI Group. Bimbo Bakeries, maker of the Arnold and Stroehmann brands, is the No. 1 bread baker.
The company had given a 5 p.m. ET Thursday deadline for the bakers to return to work or face a shutdown of the company.
In September, membership of one of its major unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, voted narrowly to accept a new contract with reduced wages and benefits. The Bakers' union rejected the deal, however, prompting Hostess management to secure permission from a bankruptcy court to force a new concession contract on workers.
The Teamsters union, which represents 6,700 Hostess workers, issued a statement blaming mismanagement by Hostess executives for the company's problems. But it also was critical of the decision of Bakers' union, although it did not identify the union by name.
"Unfortunately, the company's operating and financial problems were so severe that it required steep concessions from a variety of stakeholders but not all stakeholders were willing to be constructive," said Ken Hall, the Teamsters' Secretary-Treasurer. "Teamster Hostess members, based on the facts and advice from respected restructuring advisors, understood what was at stake and voted to protect all jobs at Hostess."
The new contract cut salaries across the company by 8% in the first year of the five-year agreement. Salaries were then scheduled to bump up 3% in the next three years and 1% in the final year.
Hostess also reduced its pension obligations and its contribution to the employees' health care plan. In exchange, the company offered concessions, including a 25% equity stake for workers and the inclusion of two union representatives on an eight-member board of directors.