High-end furniture maker Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams abruptly shut down in its home state of North Carolina last weekend after more than three decades in business, leaving hundreds of workers out of a job with little notice or explanation.
On Saturday, signs were posted on the truck gate and office door of the company’s main plant in Taylorsville, informing employees, “Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has recently and unexpectedly learned that we are unable to continue business operations” and telling them not to report to work on Monday, according to the Taylorsville Times.
The notice added, “We are sorry about the difficulties this may cause. As soon as we have a schedule to get your tools & personal belongings, we will contact you. Thank you.”
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires companies to provide employees with a 60-day heads up in advance of plant closures or mass layoffs, but Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams interim CEO Chris Moye issued a WARN notice to the state’s Commerce Department dated Aug. 26, informing the agency that the roughly 533 workers employed at the luxury manufacturer in the state would be laid off permanently within two weeks starting Aug. 28.
“In particular, and as you may have read in the news, the current economic climate has presented significant challenges to the U.S. furniture industry,” Moye wrote. “We have also recently and unexpectedly learned that the Company is unable to secure critical financing to continue business operations.”
Spokespeople for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams did not reply to FOX Business‘ request for comment.
The company was founded in 1989 by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, and Arkansas-based private equity firm The Stephens Group became majority shareholder in 2014.
Both co-founders stayed on and were involved in operating the company for a number of years. Williams retired in 2019, and Gold told the Taylorville Times he and his former business partner had no involvement in the company’s operations from that time until April of this year, when Gold returned to assist Moye, who had just been hired on as chief executive.
Gold told the outlet that he is “beyond heartbroken, depressed, frustrated, and angry” about the closure, saying, “I feel just horrible for my employees, who have been such great employees for so many years. Some have been there for six months, some have been there for 34 years.”
The Stephens Group said in a statement regarding Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’ closure, “While we do everything we can to support our portfolio companies, how their stories play out are not always fully within our control.”
The firm said it had worked closely with the furniture company for the past nine years, and recently invested another $20 million to restructure it.
“Unfortunately, shortly after this restructuring, the Company’s lender withdrew its support, forcing Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams to cease operations,” the statement read. “The Stephens Group knows that the Company has done the best it could in a very challenging situation and empathizes with all those who are impacted.”
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has 24 showrooms across the country. Axios reported that as of Wednesday, its Washington, D.C., design store was still open, but an employee there said it is set to close. The outlet noted Hillary Clinton is a former customer of the luxury brand.
Business of Home reported this week that the “entire furniture industry, which has been struggling since the pandemic boom was replaced by declining sales 18 months ago, remains on edge, and it’s likely that more shoes will drop.”
The publication pointed to other furniture businesses that have shuttered over the past several months, including Klausser and United Furniture, which abruptly laid off nearly its entire workforce before Thanksgiving last year in similar fashion to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Meanwhile, the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams employees that lost their jobs are seeking recompense.
Home Accents Today reported Thursday that a former upholstery inspection worker for the company filed a lawsuit against it on behalf of herself and the roughly “700 other employees” that worked for the company, claiming the furniture maker violated the WARN Act. The plaintiffs are seeking 60 days’ worth of unpaid wages and benefits.
Original article source: Iconic North Carolina furniture maker shutters, leaving more questions than answers
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