July 09, 2020

John Roberts’ workers given deadline

BIDDEFORD — Casco Northern Bank has agreed to give workers at John Roberts Inc. three weeks to work out a $500,000 buyout plan to save the clothing manufacturer and 150 jobs.

The bank filed for foreclosure against John Roberts in December because the company fell behind on a $1.5 million loan. The company announced in late January that it would close March 31.

But last week, company and union officials proposed an employee takeover of the company. The proposal calls for workers to take pay cuts from 6 percent to 16 percent to fund the buyout and form their own company, called ACT II Inc.

Bank officials met with union representatives Wednesday and agreed the workers’ buyout plan could save the company, which makes men’s and women’s clothing.

Casco Northern spokeswoman Caron Zand says the bank hopes financing and other details can be settled so the takeover can be completed quickly.

John Barmack, the workers’ financial consultant, said he expects a purchase and sale agreement to be worked out by next week between owner John Picariello and the workers.

They would then discuss financing with officials from the Finance Authority of Maine and other institutions.

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