RHINELANDER - Nearly 300 people will lose their jobs when Drs. Foster and Smith closes in March.
Wednesday Petco announced it will close the pet supply company in Rhinelander.
In August, Petco told us it planned to expand its call center and Live Aquaria operations.
The Drs. Foster and Smith store will close to the public on February 12. Its 289 employees will begin to lose their jobs a month later.
None of the employees we spoke with wanted to go on camera, fearing they would face retribution from the company.
Petco bought Drs. Foster and Smith in 2015.
When the founders of the company, Race Foster and Marty Smith, sold to Petco, they did so because they wanted a buyer who would stay in Oneida County and keep jobs in Rhinelander.
In 2015, the Drs. Foster and Smith Internet Marketing Manager told us Petco seemed to be committed to Rhinelander into the future.
The company released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, in part:
"Taking into account the needs of modern pet parents, shifting consumer preferences and the ongoing evolution of the Petco brand, we believe this will enable us to streamline operations and better focus on our core business and customer."
Not only will the closure affect those 289 people and their families, it will also effect Oneida County.
The Oneida County Economic Development Corporation released a statement saying it will work with local and state agencies to try to create more opportunities for those who lost their jobs.
"This is a setback for the county. It's somewhat devastating news, but we're going to attack it head on and make the best we can of it and find new opportunities for these people. They're valued employees and valued citizens of Oneida County," said Oneida County Board Chairman Dave Hintz.
Wisconsin Workforce Development is sending a rapid response team to the area to help with worker transition assistance programs.
Fifty-nine employees will keep their jobs at Live Aquaria.
Petco's full statement:
Petco today announced that we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) business based in Rhinelander, Wis., on February 12, 2019. Taking into account the needs of modern pet parents, shifting consumer preferences and the ongoing evolution of the Petco brand, we believe this will enable us to streamline operations and better focus on our core business and customer. This change affects 289 employees, with their last days of employment varying over the next 60 to 120 days ďż˝" all have been notified and will be provided severance and transition support. This decision has not been an easy one, nor has it been made lightly, and we appreciate that it has a very real effect on both individuals and the broader community in Rhinelander. In an effort to help, we're committed to working with local officials to provide ample outplacement programming for those impacted starting in February. We greatly appreciate all of our partners for their dedicated service and contributions to Drs. Foster and Smith and to Petco.