And then there were...

Jennifer Negley, June 25, 2001

The first half of 2001 is over. Finally.

As last year's anemic fourth quarter wound down, nearly everybody acknowledged that the industry was about to face some bloodletting. Whether anyone realized how awash in the stuff it would be is another matter entirely.

Last week's Chapter 11 filing from Thomaston served as the latest unpleasant chapter in the distressing saga of 2001. Coming just days after Thomaston shut its Peerless manufacturing facility and warned its remaining 900 workers that it would close by mid-August if it can't find a buyer, the action demonstrated yet again how swiftly events are unfolding for the industry.

And one need only tick down the list of what's transpired since January to confirm that point of view.

  • WestPoint Stevens kicked off the year by closing its Seneca, SC, plant, a sheeting facility that dated back to 1898. It also completed the shutdown of its Rosemary greige plant in Roanoke Rapids, NC, and cut back the work force in its Rosemary finishing plant, fabricating plant and distribution center. Most recently, it announced the closure of its Whitmire, SC, yarn-spinning operation, which had produced yarn for greige sheeting.

  • CMI inaugurated 2001 by completing the sale of its $25 million Chatham Mfg. Blanket operation to WestPoint Stevens, part of its plan to streamline operations. By May, it said it would also exit its $112 million greige goods business, whose products were translated into comforters, bedspreads and sheets as well as soft window coverings. It first closed its Clinton, SC, facility, and earlier this month entered into an agreement to sell its Clarkesville, GA, plant to a management group—thus severing its last tie with the home textiles industry.

  • As part of its restructuring, Pillowtex so far this year has closed a sheeting manufacturing plant and a towel yarn operation, and announced the restructuring of another plant that had been doing weaving, wet finishing, fabrication and distribution. These moves followed the 2000 closings of a blanket yarn plant in Newton, NC, and a cut & sew facility in Rocky Mount, NC.

  • Glenoit, after receiving a six-month extension on its bankruptcy filing, began looking for buyers for all or part of its business.

  • Spartan ended 111 years of history when G.E. Capital decided to pull the plug on the $200 million company after it defaulted on $40 million in loans. Spartan had launched a new home fashions bath business only a year earlier in an attempt to re-orient the company, and had since 1996 closed down seven plants to pare losses.

Burlington Industries exited the tufted rug business and the room-sized rug business earlier this year. Last week, it said it would sell off its Bacova Guild printed floor mat and accent rug business to Ronile, a Rocky Mount, VA, supplier of custom dyed accent yarns.

There are few in the industry willing to bet against further bloodshed. It's almost as though, having concluded that 2001 would be a bad year anyway, the industry decided to get the dirty work out of the way in one fell swoop.

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