Chiquita Closing Charlotte Headquarters

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer/TNS) -

Chiquita Brands International is closing its Charlotte headquarters barely more than three years after deciding to move here, the company said Wednesday.

Chiquita employs about 320 office workers in Charlotte. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but shared an email sent to employees. Chiquita was acquired earlier this month for about $681 million by two Brazilian companies, who took the banana-and-salads firm private after a bruising takeover fight.

The move out of Charlotte will help streamline Chiquita’s business and move its employees closer to suppliers and customers, Chiquita said in its message to employees.

“We have made the decision to transition over the next twelve to eighteen months all operational departments and remaining corporate services to be closer to our customers and operations, and out of Charlotte,” wrote interim CEO Brian Kocher.

One employee, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said many workers had anticipated such a move in the wake of the acquisition by the Brazilian companies. But others were surprised, the employee said.

Kocher said employees will learn more about the fate of their jobs over the next 90 days.

“We admire and appreciate all that you have contributed to Chiquita and thank you for your support as we shape a bright future for this great company,” wrote Kocher.

The company was lured to Charlotte from Cincinnati in 2011 with the promise of $22 million worth of state and local incentives.