Furniture Brands International has notified the state that it expects to lay off up to
1,451 people at its facilities in Mississippi. But it’s apparently not a done deal.
Those facilities would be Lane Furniture, which has manufacturing plants in Belden and Saltillo, as well as an office and distribution center in Verona and another distribution center in Wren.
Furniture Brands also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today.
The layoffs could occur in mid-October. But a communications firm hired by Furniture Brands told Furniture Today that a final decision has not been made on the layoffs. So, let’s hope for the best.
In a memo to employees, Furniture Brands said regarding Lane, “At this time, there are several interested parties who have indicated interest in acquiring that business. However, a sale is not guaranteed and we are exploring our options for Lane at this time.”
It also said it’s “business as usual” and the bankruptcy filing shouldn’t affect operations.
Furniture Brands hired restructuring advisers last month, shortly after posting a $41 million quarterly loss. The St. Louis-based company has not posted a profit since 2006, and sales have been cut in half since that time, to just over $1 billion last year.
It voluntarily delisted its shares from the New York Stock Exchange as well, and is trading over the counter.
The Community Development Foundation released the following:
Furniture Brands International has filed for bankruptcy and given official notice to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security Commission that over 1,400 employees are expected to be laid off from its Lane Furniture operations in Lee County.
“Today, many of our good, hard-working people have lost their jobs at no fault of their own with the layoff at Lane Furniture Industries,” stated Community Development Foundation (CDF) President and CEO, David Rumbarger. “Although we do not influence corporate decisions, we must now work hard to respond to these decisions by transitioning these displaced workers into re-employment.”
As part of this effort, CDF and Three Rivers Planning & Development District through The Mississippi Partnership Local Workforce Investment Area, have applied for a National Emergency Grant to provide training and re-employment services to assist the workers affected by the closure of Lane Furniture Industries in successfully finding new jobs in the community. Workers will receive career counseling assistance, job-search assistance, and on-the-job training, among other re-employment services. Workers will meet in groups with members of the Rapid Response Services Team to receive all re-employment training and support services. The Rapid Response Team is compromised of representatives of key local and state agencies that provide resources and services to assist displaced workers.
CDF’s focus is to turn this unfortunate situation into a new opportunity for the workers affected by Lane’s closing. CDF, along with the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Mississippi Development Authority, and Tennessee Valley Authority, have assisted 19 companies locate and/or expand in the community creating over 500 jobs since January. CDF is also working with several other companies that would create even more job opportunities in the near future.
The furniture industry in Northeast Mississippi is very healthy and many of these dislocated workers will have the opportunity to stay in the furniture industry. It is the work ethic of hard workers like those at Lane and others that have made the furniture industry in Northeast Mississippi what it is today.