SMITHFIELD, Va. — Smithfield Foods is closing its distribution center to “optimize” its national distribution operation, according to a statement from Smithfield Foods.

The facility will close operations Dec. 31 and 39 salaried and hourly workers will be affected.

“The company’s lease on the distribution center facility expires at the end of 2019 and the facility will be leased to a new tenant,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance at Smithfield Foods, in an email. “The closure of Smithfield’s Newport News, VA, distribution center is part of broader plan to optimize the company’s national distribution network to better serve its customers.”

The company is currently a tenant of Interstate Warehousing, a cold storage warehousing facility part of the Tippmann Group, a company based in Indiana.

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It’s unclear how long Smithfield was leasing warehouse space at the facility, 121 Harwood Drive and Mark Wolf, spokesman for Tippmann Group, declined to elaborate.

“We typically don’t discuss their [tenant’s] contracts,” he said, adding further inquiries should be directed to Smithfield Foods.

According to the Smithfield Foods Sustainability 2018 report, the company planned to consolidate its seven distribution centers leaving the newly built Tar Heel, North Carolina and North East, Maryland facilities and the other two locations in Edwardsville, Kansas and Greenfield, Indiana.

“These changes also will reduce annual transportation and warehouse costs by an estimated $45 million and enhance customer service,” the report states. “Our efforts are expected to create new efficiencies for our transportation partners as well, allowing us to negotiate better rates and reduce our costs further.

Smithfield plans to help the 39 affected by the distribution’s closing find new jobs.

“Smithfield is committed to assisting impacted employees with this transition with a strong focus on securing job opportunities elsewhere at the company or with other local employers through partnership with the Virginia Employment Commission and the Virginia Career Works Dislocated Worker Unit and Rapid Response Team,” Lombardo said.

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