Tuesday, March 01, 2005

WestPoint Stevens to close Triad factory, cut 560 local jobs

Bedding Industry

Source: Business Journal - Triad Area

WestPoint Stevens announced a major restructuring Monday that would affect nearly 2,500 employees and shut down several plants, including the company's Alamance County factory and distribution center.

The company, based in West Point, Ga., said it would be consolidating its bed and bath products manufacturing and shifting "a significant amount" to overseas factories due to the end of international textile trade quotas.

"We must be flexible in maintaining the most profitable balance between our domestic manufacturing and goods source from overseas," President and CEO M.L. "Chip" Fontenot said in a prepared statement released late Monday afternoon. "This becomes more critical with quotas removed."

WestPoint Stevens (OTCBB: WSPTQ) said it would close its Alamance Plant and Distribution Center in Burlington, its Clemson, S.C., fabricating and greige plants and distribution center, its Middleton, Ind., plant and its Drakes Branch, Va., plant. The company also said it would reduce the work force at its Clemson finishing plant by more than 50 percent.

In all, about 2,465 employees will be affected. Its facilities in Burlington employ 560 people, the company said.

The affected plants will begin to prepare for shutdown this month, with the facilities closing in late March or early April. The layoffs are the first textile job losses in the Triad since international quotas on textiles and apparel trade ended Jan. 1.

Many U.S. textile companies predicted that the end of the decades-old quota system would lead to a new round of layoffs for the textile industry. The industry lobbied, to date mostly unsuccessfully, for the government to impose new, temporary quotas on Chinese-made goods. The government has not ruled on most of those quota requests yet. New quotas are generally opposed by the apparel industry.