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WPS to close Rosemary, recalls electric blanket

WestPoint, GA — WestPoint Stevens said it will shut down the remainder of its Rosemary plant complex in Roanoke Rapids, NC, as it scraps a plan to expand its basic bedding business.

Preparations to shutter the plant will begin early next month, and the plant will ultimately close by June 28, with about 320 Rosemary workers being laid off.

"The company has decided that this plant will not be converted to produce basic bedding product as previously announced," said Art Birkins, president of the basic bedding division. Recent capital investments in current facilities "have provided us with a dramatic increase in efficiency and yield — all the capacity we require for both our immediate and long-term growth," said Birkins.

In other news, the company is recalling about 8,000 Vellux Fahrenheit heated blankets after receiving complaints from 10 consumers about blanket over-heating and scorching, including four from consumers who reported minor burns. WestPoint said, "The reported incidents appear to have occurred mostly when the blanket was folded or crumpled back on itself, causing the heating elements to overheat. In two instances, the connector box at the foot of the blanket appears to have overheated. About 8,000 blankets are being recalled, including about 600 that were sold in Canada."

Vellux Fahrenheit blankets were sold from July 2002 to February 2003 to a roster of stores including Bloomingdale's, the J.C. Penney internet catalog, Linens 'n Things, Rich's, Sears, the QVC network, and, in Canada, by mail order from Sears.

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