Springs closes two plants

Don Hogsett, July 14, 2003

With sales tumbling down through the first six months of the year in a prolonged retail slump, Springs Industries, the nation's largest home fashions producer, said it's shutting two of its oldest manufacturing plants — each in operation for more than a century — to cut costs and pare down capacity.

The major mill said it will permanently close the White Plant in Fort Mill, SC, a 111-year-old greige goods weaving facility, and the 107-year-old Lancaster, SC, plant, which spins yarn for the White facility and other Springs plants.

Both plants will be shuttered by Sept. 8 and about 500 jobs will be lost in the process. In a further cost-cutting move, Springs will permanently lay off another 130 workers at its Grace Fabrication Plant in Lancaster, SC, which produces and packages sheets and pillowcases. The Grace plant now employs about 1,000 workers.

Henry Surratt, vp of bedding fabrics manufacturing, said, "The weak economy has created excess capacity in our business, and we must keep capacity in line with demand. While this decision will improve operating schedules for our other fabric plants, we regret the impact this closing will have on employees and their families."

Because of the extreme age of the two plants being closed, and the older, less efficient equipment within them, both plants are uncompetitive in today's environment, and modernizing them would not be cost effective, Surratt said.

Springs said it will try to find new jobs for displaced workers, but noted that the prospects are dim.

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