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WestPoint to shutter Whitmire, SC, facility

Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, March 5, 2001

ATLANTA -Still cutting costs and consolidating plants in its big bedding business, textiles giant WestPoint Stevens said it is closing the Whitmire, SC, yarn-spinning plant that produces yarn for the company's greige sheeting operations.

The shutdown marks the fourth plant closing since WestPoint put in place last June an eight-point program designed to cut costs, reduce capacity and boost the major mill's lagging profitability and stock price.

Preparations for the plant closing are now under way, with a projected closing date of May 1. Some 292 Whitmire workers will be affected.

Machinery from the plant will be relocated to other WestPoint plants that house both yarn-spinning and sheet weaving operations. Yarn capacity will be unaffected by the move, the company emphasized. "The amount of yarn currently produced internally will not be reduced by the Whitmire shutdown, and production will be directed in a more cost-efficient flow."

"Yarn produced at the Whitmire plant has to be hauled significant distances to reach any of our weaving facilities. This has become especially critical in the face of continuing higher fuel prices," said Lanny Bledsoe, senior vp, manufacturing. "We are continuing to rationalize our manufacturing operations to meet the challenges of doing business in a global economy and to keep our competitive edge as the industry's low-cost producer. Because of significant modernization in the company over the past several years, we are now able to consolidate manufacturing into the facilities that provide the most efficient workflow."

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