High Point-based Heritage Home Group, which owns the Thomasville and Broyhill furniture brands, has filed for bankruptcy. If the home furnishings maker doesn’t find a buyer, it will close both of its Lenoir plants and lay off 712 workers.
The company said it is in talks with buyers to continue operations at two of its plants in Lenoir: 315 Elizabeth St. Northwest, and at 830 Complex St., according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice filed this week. Such notices have to be filed with the state.
Heritage said that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 29 to begin a restructuring that will allow the company to move ahead with a sale of its business supervised by the bankruptcy court.
“If the company is unable to find a suitable buyer who will continue the operations at the above locations, or in the event that certain employees are not offered employment by such a buyer, it is expected their employment will be terminated sixty (60) days from the date of this notice,” Heritage said.
In late July, Heritage said that it was in “final negotiations with a buyer for the acquisition of both its Thomasville & Co and Broyhill business units.” Heritage said this week it has been unable to secure a buyer for those units.
“Active discussions with potential buyers for these businesses, including the Lenoir facilities, are in progress. We deeply appreciate the dedication of our employees during this period of uncertainty,” Robert Albergotti, Heritage’s chief restructuring officer, said in a statement.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Heritage acquired Furniture Brands International for $280 million through a competitive bankruptcy bidding process in 2013. Over the last 15 years, Furniture Brands and Heritage have together eliminated over 9,000 jobs in North Carolina, the Journal reported, “in pursuit of lower labor costs in Asia that have not contributed to increased sales.”
If it doesn’t find a buyer, HHG would become the latest fatality of an industry that’s been in the decline for years as manufacturers seek to minimize costs through new technology and cheaper labor abroad. High Point has, after all, historically been known as “The furniture capital of America.”
North Carolina was once a hotbed of textile manufacturing, but has seen employment in the sector fall by about 82 percent since the mid-1990s, according to Federal Reserve data.