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    Tasty Baking Co. Closes 12 Stores, Top Execs and Chairman Leave Company

    PHILADELPHIA - Tasty Baking Co., maker of the Tastykake brand of snacks, has closed its 12 stores and several of its top executives including its chairman have left the company, The Associated Press reports.

    PHILADELPHIA - Tasty Baking Co., maker of the Tastykake brand of snacks, has closed its 12 stores and several of its top executives including its chairman have left the company, The Associated Press reports.

    The changes announced Monday come less than three months after Charles P. Pizzi took over as chief executive and president of the 88-year-old maker of cakes, pies and cookies.

    "What we're saying is that this is no longer business as usual," Pizzi said Monday. He called the changes a first step to "refocus on profitable growth."

    The thrift stores, which were in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland and employed about 50 people, were opened beginning in September 2000. The idea was for Tasty Baking to generate revenue by selling older snacks at discounted prices, but the stores drew too few customers to make them profitable.

    John Pettine, chief financial officer, said the stores were closed mainly because the projected cost of maintaining them through 2003 greatly exceeded projected revenues. The company said it expects to report an unspecified operating loss for the fourth quarter, even before substantial charges for restructuring and additional pension costs.

    In addition to two Philadelphia stores, other Pennsylvania locations were in Allentown, Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, Reading, Dickson City and Wilkes-Barre. Three stores were in New Jersey -- in Cinnaminson, Blackwood, and Vineland -- and one was in Dundalk, Md.

    Tasty Baking distributes its products nationwide and generates much of its sales through its 470 "owner-operators" who own distribution routes and deliver Tasty Baking products in their trucks throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Washington.

    The highest-ranking executive to leave in the shake-up was Carl S. Watts, chairman, who was with Tasty Baking for 35 years. As of now, the company doesn't have a chairman, Pizzi said.

    Other departing executives were W. Dan Nagle, vice president of route operations; Gary G. Kyle, vice president of marketing and national sales; and Mark M. Johnson, vice president of human resources. The company said they left Tasty Baking to pursue other opportunities.

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