BLUEFIELD, W.V. — Flowers Baking Co. of West Virginia, a subsidiary of Flowers Bakeries, said it would cease manufacturing operations on March 5. The bakery, which Flowers acquired in 1981, produces bread and buns on two production lines and employs 164. Production and sales of the products will shift to other Flowers bakeries in the region, the company said.

“Closing the bakery was a very difficult decision,” said Robbie Watkins, bakery president. “We know it affects people and their families and we have been a part of the Bluefield community for a long time. We will work with outside agencies to provide employees with job counseling and other assistance.”

Mr. Watkins said the bakery is old and its outdated equipment cannot produce the volume needed to be efficient.

“Replacing the equipment is not an option,” he said. “Our facility simply doesn’t have the space to accommodate new equipment. We would literally have to rebuild this bakery from the ground up. We cannot justify that very large capital expense given the size of this market and its very slow growth rate.”

Flowers Bakeries said it will continue to serve customers and consumers in West Virginia and the surrounding area with fresh bread and buns produced at other Flowers subsidiaries in the region.

“Service to our customers and consumers will continue uninterrupted," Mr. Watkins said. “We will continue to deliver our fresh bakery foods daily through our network of independent distributors.”