GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Viking Range Corp.'s new owner is laying off one-fifth of the company's workers.
Middleby Corp, based near Chicago, said it laid off about 140 of Viking's 700 employees Thursday.
Also, Viking founder and Chief Executive Officer Fred Carl Jr. announced his retirement. Carl had earlier said that he probably would lead the company for several more years and cited Middleby's pattern of leaving managers in place after buying companies.
Layoffs are effective immediately, with a majority in Viking's hometown of Greenwood. Spokeswoman Darcy Bretz said she doesn't know if fired workers are receiving severance pay.
Viking cooking schools in Ridgeland, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn., will close.
Bretz provided no explanation of why Carl stepped down. She also didn't say who would lead the Viking unit.
Middleby announced Dec. 31 that it was buying Viking for $380 million from shareholders including Carl and Arkansas' Stephens family.
The purchaser aims to increase Viking's sales and profits while cutting costs. Bretz says layoffs were spread across the company but were heavier in some departments. Viking's sales had fallen to $200 million from a peak of $400 million 2006-2007, Middleby told its investors after the purchase.
Carl and Viking have worked to revitalize Greenwood's downtown, including the Alluvian Hotel and a cooking school there. Those operations will stay open.