After 120 Years in S.C., Springs Shuts Plants

Don Hogsett, July 9, 2007

As the American home fashions business continues to dismantle its manufacturing base and move increasingly off shore, Springs Global said it will shut down its South Carolina bedding manufacturing, closing its giant Grace complex and its H.W. Close operation by the end of August.

About 750 workers will lose their jobs, 540 at the Grace Finishing and Grace Fabrication plants in Lancaster, S.C., and 210 at the Close plant in Fort Lawn, S.C., named for former ceo Bill Close, the father of current co-chairman and ceo Crandall Bowles. A distribution and warehouse operation at Grace will remain in operation, employing about 150.

The Grace plant, which has been in operation since 1948, produces finished bed fabrics and sheets, and the Close plant, opened in 1989, makes comforters and bedding accessories.

"This marks the end of 120 years during which Springs has manufactured bedding in South Carolina," said Bowles. "Both the Grace plant and the Close plant have been integral and valuable parts of our business. The Grace complex, in particular, once the largest finishing plant under one roof in the world, has been a symbol of our company in this area."

Bowles added, "The closing of these plants reflects the global nature of the textile industry, which has made U.S. textile manufacturing uncompetitive. Though inevitable for the company, this move is a sad and difficult one for my family and the people and communities involved. We would like to express our deepest appreciation to all the associates for their years of commitment and productive efforts for this company."

Springs will offer affected workers severance pay. The company said it will "also work with local officials to identify employers who need outstanding workers and assist in organizing job fairs." One such fair is scheduled for June 29 at the University of South Carolina, Lancaster.

At its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, Springs employed as many as 15,000 in South Carolina. After the most recent wave of plant closings, Springs will employ about 700 in the Palmetto State, primarily at two distribution facilities in Lancaster and Fort Lawn, and two sales and administrative offices in Fort Mill.

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