Pepperidge Farm is closing its bakery in Aiken. The company issued a press release today announcing the decision, saying it was part of a program to improve the utilization of its manufacturing network.

Bill Livingstone, senior vice president, supply chain and operations, said: “The bakery industry in the United States is becoming increasingly consolidated and competitive. In order to continue to grow and flourish, Pepperidge Farm needs to be innovative and agile, with the most cost-effective manufacturing facilities.

“We recently reviewed our operations and identified excess capacity in our bakery network,” he continued. “As a result, we evaluated a number of different options to address this. We made the difficult decision to close our plant in Aiken. It is a very good bakery with great people, but it has limited production capabilities, and we’ve recently discontinued a product that accounted for a significant amount of its volume.”

Livingstone added that the company recognized it was a difficult decision for the employees working at the plant.

“This move in no way reflects on the team at our Aiken bakery and we will ensure we look after our people during the coming months,” he said. “Over the years they have shown strong commitment, which is why we have continued to invest in equipment and training at the site.”

Opened in 1976, the Aiken bakery employs 115 people. Pepperidge Farm intends to close the facility in phases, starting in September 2013. Operations are scheduled to end by March 2014. The company plans to shift the majority of the bread made in Aiken to its bakery in Lakeland, Fla.

Pepperidge Farm will offer affected employees a comprehensive support package which includes compensation packages that recognize their commitment and service; access to employment specialists who can provide advice on preparing resumes and job interview techniques and meetings with financial advisers. The company will also organize job fairs, where companies looking to recruit can meet employees.

Pepperidge Farm operates eight other bakeries across the country and employs more than 4,000 people.