March 19th, 2008

Furniture Brands closes High Point plant with 300 jobs

[June 27, 2008](High Point Enterprise (NC) (KRT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jun. 27--HIGH POINT -- A longtime furniture plant in southwest High Point will close by the end of this year, costing 300 workers their jobs in one of the largest single layoffs in the city in some time.

Furniture Brands International Inc. announced Thursday afternoon that it will close its Drexel Heritage Furniture Industries Inc. plant at 741 W. Ward Ave. by the end of this year. The plant at W. Ward and Green Drive has produced upholstered furniture for decades.

St. Louis-based Furniture Brands blamed the closing on "competitive pressures we face today in the furniture industry." The furniture manufacturing conglomerate will continue to produce upholstered products at other plants in North Carolina, said Furniture Brands Chairman Ralph Scozzafava in a prepared statement.

Furniture Brands didn't indicate directly in its statement that offshore production -- which has cost thousands of furniture manufacturing jobs in the region this decade -- contributed to the closing. But Furniture Brands did indicate that it will apply to the U.S. Department of Labor for benefits to workers under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, which provides additional support to people losing jobs from foreign competition.

The plant at W. Ward and Green has operated at least since August 1977, according to information provided by the company to the city of High Point business license office. However, the plant may have gone through different ownerships and could have been in operation more than 31 years.

The job loss from the Drexel Heritage plant closing is one of the single-largest cutbacks in the city this decade for any field or industry.

The city did suffer a string of furniture manufacturing and retail job losses during 2006.

About 200 workers were let go in the summer of 2006 when Claude Gable Co. ceased furniture production. Approximately 180 people lost jobs at Miller Desk Inc. when it closed in phases through September 2006, while about 240 workers lost jobs as longtime local retailer Rose Furniture Co. went out of business.

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