GREENSBORO — United Furniture Industries has abruptly halted production at its six Triad facilities — where it had between 600 and 880 employees — as part of what appears to be a general business shutdown.
Multiple media reports say employees in Winston-Salem, Mississippi and California, as well as delivery drivers, received emails from United’s board of directors on Monday and early Tuesday.
United, based in Okolona, Mississippi, manufactures mid-priced promotional upholstered furniture in the U.S. under its name and the Lane Home Furnishings brand, acquired in November 2017 from Heritage Home Group.
It is not known how many employees were affected at Triad facilities. The company is believed to have three operations in Lexington and one in Archdale, Trinity and Winston-Salem.
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Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
A few days before the Thanksgiving holiday, United Furniture sent an email and text memo to workers on Monday night, advising them not to show up for their shifts on Tuesday.
A second email informed workers that their “dismissal from the company shall be permanent and all benefits will immediately terminate without COBRA provision,” referring to the federal law that gives people who lose their jobs the option to keep their plans. employer-sponsored health services. insurance coverage in some circumstances.
Some employees were fast asleep when the emails arrived in their inboxes. Others never saw the emails before going to work. Company drivers who were making deliveries were instructed to return to a United Furniture location immediately to deliver their trucks.
The memo said the layoffs were made on the instruction of the company’s board of directors and due to “unforeseen business circumstances”.
As of July, United Furniture had approximately 3,000 employees in 18 factories, offices and distribution centers in North Carolina, California, Mississippi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Multiple media outlets in Mississippi are reporting that 2,700 employees have been affected across the company.
Trade publication Furniture Today reported that in June, United fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and executive vice president of sales.
Robert Cottam, a former consultant for United, said Tuesday that the company has placed padlocks on all Triad facilities. Cottam said the company would likely file for Chapter 7, which signals the liquidation of its assets, or Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with the intention of staying in business.
“Many furniture makers were having runaway sales in 2021 with the pandemic,” said Cottam. “But when these inflationary factors hit hard, they really put pressure on the discretionary spending of those buying promotional furniture.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.