Walgreens announced plans Friday to close its Lehigh Valley distribution center near Bethlehem.

The facility at 125 North Commerce Way in Hanover Township employs 400 people, all of whom were notified Friday of the company's decision, officials said.

"Our Lehigh Valley Distribution Center in Bethlehem has served the company since 1991, making the decision to close it a difficult one," spokeswoman Emily Hartwig said in a statement released to 69 News.

More modern facilities in Connecticut and elsewhere around the region have resulted in the Lehigh Valley facility being underutilized, with only one shift operating each day, Hartwig said.

"To ensure we’re operating at optimal efficiency, the Lehigh volume will be absorbed within other centers that have the capacity," said Hartwig, adding that the facility's closing will take place in phases, begining in mid-January and concluding in March 2014. 

Walgreens employs nearly 4,500 people across Pennsylvania at drug stores and other facilities, including another distribution center in Lower Nazareth Twp., Northampton Co.