Belfast Telegraph

Aryzta seeks files in US court battle over 'losses'

'McKee sued Aryzta in 2017 after the Swiss-Irish company's facilities in Chicago were put under strain when the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency cracked down on illegal workers' (stock photo)
'McKee sued Aryzta in 2017 after the Swiss-Irish company's facilities in Chicago were put under strain when the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency cracked down on illegal workers' (stock photo)

By John Mulligan

Cuisine de France owner Aryzta has asked a court in the United States to force McKee Foods, a former significant customer, to disclose a raft of financial information.

The request came after McKee claimed it suffered at least $16m (£12.1m) in losses because Aryzta was allegedly unable to fill many of its orders in 2017.

Lawyers for Aryzta, whose chief executive is Kevin Toland, have claimed that family-owned McKee Foods has "delayed and deflected" the Swiss-Irish company's efforts to discover relevant information that it said would demonstrate if McKee "sustained any damages at all".

"McKee has turned this proceeding into a war of attrition by refusing to produce relevant evidence that goes to the heart of any potential damages calculation. Court intervention is required," said Aryzta's lawyers in court filings this week.

Tennessee-based McKee sells well-known cake snack brands in the US such as Little Debbie. It has annual sales of about $1.5bn (£1.2bn).

Aryzta wants information "substantiating the fines and penalties McKee claims it was required to pay to retailers, as well as the incentives it provided to its customers in the absence of the Aryzta-made items".

McKee sued Aryzta in 2017 after the Swiss-Irish company's facilities in Chicago were put under strain when the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency cracked down on illegal workers.

That saw about 750 staff from the two Aryzta facilities forced to leave their roles. The workers had been supplied by a third-party jobs agency and Aryzta was not aware the workers' authorisations were deficient.

Aryzta has also asked the US court to force McKee Foods to supply information including its board minutes.

Aryzta's lawyers want McKee's "unredacted board minutes, as well as internal reports, analyses and presentations prepared before and after McKee received notice of the Aryzta labour event to scrutinise how McKee responded and was impacted".

The lawyers added they require "documents related to any third-party vendors who performed work for McKee before or after McKee terminated the Original Manufacturing Agreement, and all due-diligence McKee performed regarding the immigration status of such employees, to counteract McKee's claim that Aryzta's handling of the operational workforce at its bakeries was improper or inconsistent".

Belfast Telegraph

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