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Yankee Candle lays off employees, restructures

SOUTH DEERFIELD — This week, Yankee Candle Co. laid off some salaried employees at its South Deerfield corporate headquarters, but the company hopes to move most of the employees into new positions as part of a restructuring.

President and CEO Harlen Kent said Yankee notified employees Thursday.

Kent would not specify how many people the layoffs impacted, but he said the laid-off employees make up less than 30 people, or 2 percent of the 1,500-person workforce in Franklin County. The eliminated positions are in marketing, engineering and product development departments. They are salaried jobs. The hourly jobs at the factory in Whately are not affected.

The move is part of the candle-maker’s plans to grow and expand, Kent said.

Last year, Yankee Candle grew by 100 positions. It expects to add another 100 positions this year as well, Kent said.

“We’ll have a higher number of employees than what we started with,” Kent said.

Kent said most of the laid-off workers will be moving into new positions that reflect the company’s new focus on the online market. New positions include Internet sales and marketing and international business.

Other employees will be redirected into positions within Jarden Corp., which bought Yankee in November for $1.75 billion. Some of the layoffs were to eliminate redundancy within the two companies.

Yankee is Franklin County’s biggest employer. Michael J. Kittredge II founded Yankee in 1969 in his parents’ garage in South Hadley, growing into a multi-million dollar company. He later sold the company for $400 million in 1998. A year later, the company went public.

Kittredge’s son, Michael Kittredge III now owns and runs a competing candle business, Kringle Candle in Bernardston.

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