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Guilford to close Cobleskill, NY, site

Hard times continue for American mills, and the latest news from Guilford Mills is no exception. The mill, based here, last week announced the closing of its Cobleskill, NY, facility.

The facility, which will shut its doors on Nov. 8 and employs approximately 500 people, manufactures stretch knit intimate apparel, swimwear fabrics, apparel lace and lace for its home textiles arm, Guilford Home Fashions, which is based in New York. Until its closing, the factory will continue to service remaining orders, the company said, and will assist in transitioning its customers to new suppliers. It is possible, the company also said, that the facility could be sold.

"We were braced for it; and we knew we would have to make alternative plans, and we have done so," said Herb Briggs, president of Guilford Home Fashions. "We expect there to be a seamless transition in terms of flow of goods and production."

Briggs also said that any home fashions products that were being produced in the facility would be sourced either domestically on a pieced goods basis or from various countries offshore.

Ironically, Guilford had recently consolidated several operations from other facilities into the Cobleskill operation. The company had also recently closed two other facilities.

John Emrich, president and ceo of Guilford Mills, cited declining sales and margins as well as the increasing uncertainty of the viability of the operation as factors that played a role in the decision to shut down the Cobleskill plant.

"The growing apparel imports, strong U.S. dollar and weak economy have resulted in significant financial loses," Emrich said. "These factors, combined with the tightened credit in the domestic textile industry, make it impossible for the company to sustain apparel dyeing and finishing in the U.S. We believe that we have taken every reasonable action to make Cobleskill successful. Unfortunately, we were at such a disadvantage that our efforts were insufficient."

In addition to the closing, Guilford plans to cuts its domestic apparel business selling and administrative staff by 70 percent. Corporate cuts are also expected.

Emrich went on to say that the company's strategies regarding its direct-to-retail home fashions business and its automotive and industrial fabrics businesses remained unchanged.

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