Tastefully Simple Inc., a gourmet and specialty food direct-sales company, said it was cutting about 66 jobs, or about 20 percent, at its headquarters in Alexandria, Minn.

The reduction is the first in the 19-year history of Tastefully Simple, which grew from a gift-basket business in its founder's home to a national distributor of easy-to-make snacks, cakes and other food, with $82 million in 2013 sales.

Executives made the decision after an analysis of the company's structure, spokeswoman Lynn Arnquist said. After the reduction, Tastefully Simple will employ about 200 people in Alexandria, 130 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. Its products are sold through a network of home-based sales consultants and online.

In a statement, Tastefully Simple founder and Chief Executive Jill Blashack Strahan said the company's employees "are like family to us, which makes this very difficult."

She added, "We also know this step is absolutely necessary to help us achieve our growth goals in an increasingly challenging marketplace. I'm very confident in our ability to grow our business by investing in targeted strategies."

Evan Ramstad