Allens Inc. Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Wants to Sell Frozen Vegetables Business

Allens Inc. of Siloam Springs and parent company All Veg LLC have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing debts of at least $100 million and saying they want to sell their frozen vegetables business.

The family-owned company, which was founded in 1926 as Allen Canning Company, is a vegetable processor and food-service provider whose products are sold under a number of brand names, including Allens, Princella, Freshlike and Royal Prince.

In a news release, Allens said it is seeking a buyer for its frozen vegetables business in Montezuma, Ga., and that it's also exploring "strategic alternatives," including "a potential sale of all or part of the operating business or emergence from the reorganization process as a financially sound, stand-alone company." 

"Allens has a long and proud history and we intend to use the reorganization process to become a stronger, more competitive business," Josh Allen, Allens president and CEO, said in a news release about the filing.

"We remain firmly committed to serving our customers and providing consumers with great-tasting, affordable and high-quality vegetables," he said. "We appreciate the support of our suppliers and the ongoing dedication of our employees, whose hard work is critical to the future of our business."

In the filing, made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fayetteville, Allen said the company decided on Sunday evening to file bankruptcy. The company said it intends to continuing operating, focusing on "its core canned vegetable markets." 

Bankruptcy filings allow companies to disclose information about debt, assets and creditors within specific ranges. In its filing, Allens cited debts of between $100 million and $500 million, assets of between of between $100 million and $500 million, and the number of creditors of between 1,000 and 5,000.

Allens' largest unsecured creditors are:

  • Ball Metal Food Container Co. of Broomfield, Colo., owed $46.2 million
  • Crown Cork & Seal USA Inc. of Philadelphia, owed $18.04 million
  • Hartung Brothers Inc. of Madison, Wis., owed $7.77 million
  • Razorback Farms Inc. of Springdale, owed $4.1 million

All the amounts owed are for trade debts, the filing said. Allens said it expects money will be available to pay unsecured creditors.

Allens is expected to file a more detailed bankruptcy report within 14 days.

In its news release, Allens said it has "the support of its first and second-lien lenders, and has received a commitment from its first lien lenders for 'debtor in possession' financing to support its continued operations."

Allens entered the frozen foods business in 2006 with its purchase of Birds Eye Foods Inc. The acquisition gave Allens control of Birds Eye plants in Brockport, Bergen and Oakfield, N.Y.; Fairwater, Wis.; and Montezuma, Ga. It added about 700 employees to Allen's payroll.

Allens has been slimming operations since at least 2011, when it shuttered a plant in Fort Worth that employed about 70 people. In March 2012, it sold four other food plants in New York and Wisconsin that employed about 400 people, saying it would focus on its "core business."

In March, the company consolidated some of its northwest Arkansas locations, moving 150 jobs from its Van Buren plant to its Siloam Springs canning site. At the time, Allens said it was investing in technology and increased capacity at its Arkansas, North Carolina and Wisconsin facilities.

Allens is the 23rd largest private company in Arkansas, according to Arkansas Business’ annual list of the state’s 75 largest private companies. For this year's list, Allens reported $420 million in 2012 revenue, down 30 percent from 2011, and said it has 960 employees in Arkansas.

According to other court documents related to the bankruptcy, Allens employs more than 1,173 people across all its operations. That number includes 766 hourly employees and 162 salaried workers. The company also has 319 temporary employees hired through a staffing agency. In all, gross weekly wages to salaried employees average about $774,000.

The company has a website for documents and announcements related to the bankruptcy.