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Mike Knowles



Chiquita relocates head office to Florida

Group confirms plan to move to Fort Lauderdale, with Fresh Express division to be based further north in Orlando

Chiquita relocates head office to Florida

Chiquita's South Florida distribution centre is already located at Port Everglades, near Fort Lauderdale (Photo: Port Everglades)

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With the news that Chiquita Brands International is to relocate its head office to Florida, it seems José Luis Cutrale, the billionaire Brazilian juice magnate who acquired the US multinational fruit marketer at the start of 2015, has wasted no time in making changes to suit his own company's requirements.

According to reports in the US media, Chiquita will move its main US headquarters to Fort Lauderdale, just north of Miami, while its fresh convenience division Fresh Express will be moved to a location close to Orlando – home to Walt Disney World, one of its largest commercial partners.

Chiquita already has a major distribution centre at South Florida’s Port Everglades.

A spokeswoman for Chiquita told the Sun Sentinel that about 150-200 jobs would be split between the two Florida locations. The group had previously indicated in April that leaving Charlotte would mean relocating 300 jobs.

The move will be a major disappointment to those in Charlotte who worked hard to lure the company away from Cincinnati three years ago by offering it millions of dollars’ worth of corporate incentives.

But relocating to Florida – much closer to its Brazilian owners and indeed the tropical regions from which it sources fruit – makes a great deal of sense for a Brazilian-owned operation so firmly rooted in the tropics.

It also puts Chiquita in close proximity to Cutrale Citrus Juices USA, which is based in Auburndale, in Florida’s Polk County.

For Cutrale himself, replanting Chiquita in the Sunshine State has a clear advantage: the billionaire owns a mansion in Windermere, a town in Florida’s aptly named Orange County.

That puts him just a one-hour flight away from Miami, assuming he goes with convention and travels by private jet.

The location switch should also make it easier for those Cutrale executives making the journey by more orthodox means.

Flying to Charlotte from Brazil generally requires switching planes twice, in transit hubs like Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore and Raleigh (North Carolina).

In contrast, various operators run direct flights between Brazil and Miami on a daily basis.

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