February 24, 2020
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Textile maker to close Biddeford plant, 2 others

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Textile manufacturer WestPoint Home informed employees Friday that it plans to close the blanket factory in June, putting 121 people out of work. It also announced the closing of two other plants in North Carolina and Florida.

The Biddeford employees will be laid off between June 5 and 19, according to Nancy Golden, vice president of marketing. The shutdown in Biddeford was largely because of a drop in demand for its sole product, the Vellux blanket, she said.

“It’s a very sad time,” Golden told the Portland Press Herald. “We’ve known these people a long time, and we really appreciate their service.”

New York-based WestPoint Home also is closing a plant in Elkin, N.C., which employed 134 workers, and another in Chipley, Fla., which employed 326 workers. WestPoint Home will have only one plant remaining, in Greenville, Ala.

Formerly known as WestPoint Stevens, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003 and emerged two years later with a new name.

The company’s origins date back more than 200 years with the startup of J.P. Stevens & Co. Inc. in Massachusetts, followed by Pepperell Manufacturing Co. in Maine, and West Point Manufacturing Co. in Georgia.

It currently manufactures and markets bedding including comforters, blankets and sheets, and bath fashions including towels and accessories. Brands include Martex, Baby Martex, Utica, Chatham, Vellux, Lady Pepperell and several others.

In Maine, demand for the Vellux blankets dropped over the last five years, Golden said. “Due to the challenges of competition, there is financial pressure to make our products more efficiently and less expensively,” she added.

The Maine workers will receive one week of severance pay for every year they have been with the company, Ron Therrien, a union official, told WMTW-TV.

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