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Springs eases off greige, adds bath capacity

Fort Mill, SC — Gearing up to expand its towel business and grab market share after the demise of rival Pillowtex Corp., and at the same time improve its deliveries, Springs Industries said it's expanding its U.S. towel manufacturing capacity at two terry plants in Griffin and Hartwell, GA.

But coping with excess capacity in its sheet weaving operation, the mill will also permanently close two weaving facilities: the Springfield plant in Laurel Hill, NC, and the Leroy Plant in Fort Lawn, SC, putting about 320 workers out of a job. The move accelerates a growing trend at Springs of sourcing greige goods for bedding products offshore, most notably for opening to mid price-point blends.

In a surprising twist in an industry that's seen a substantial portion of its towel business move offshore in search of lower costs, Springs said it's building domestic capacity "to fully serve its customers and meet growing demand for its towels," notably after the collapse of Pillowtex.

Ted Matthews, Springs' vp of communications, said the move will generate "a significant increase in our capacity and our ability to service the business," but declined to be more specific.

With the impending shutdown of two more weaving plants, "the remaining plants will be running at full capacity and on a full working schedule," said Matthews, following sporadic shutdowns throughout the year. "That will provide some stability for the work force at the remaining plants."

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